College changes ‘botched’ claim

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One of South Yorkshire’s biggest colleges is starting the new term with 29 staff vacancies unfilled due to a ‘botched’ restructuring programme, according to lecturers’ union UCU.

Barnsley College brought in changes towards the end of last term after funding cuts meant savings of up to £600,000 needed to be found.

Staff were given the option of taking voluntary redundancy or accepting new posts, many of which had lower salaries and inferior contracts, according to the University and College Union.

The UCU says the actual savings made by the restructure were £1.2 million, and members are now being balloted for strike action.

Regional official Julie Kelley said: “We are astounded that the college now has 29 job vacancies. It has rushed through a botched restructure, losing many experienced staff who were utterly demoralised by the way they were treated.

“Now we are only days from the start of term and 15 of the job vacancies are in student-facing roles. Presumably the college is confident it can fill these vacancies at lower rates of pay and with inferior terms and conditions, but we are not convinced. The real danger now is that students could start college in September without experienced permanent staff in place to teach their courses.”

College principal Colin Booth said: “The majority of student-facing roles have been appointed to with the remainder in progress. Every department will have suitably qualified and experienced staff teaching every class when term starts on September 1. There will be no adverse impact on students.

“Negotiations over the new contract are ongoing. It offers improved terms and conditions for some staff while others will see no fundamental change.”