University Jobs At Risk

Jobs could be lost at Oxford Brookes University as it faces funding cuts and dwindling student numbers in some subjects. The university has announced it is planning to make savings in the technology school and the school of health and social care, which offers courses in nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Oxford Brookes receives about £8m from the NHS to fund these courses, but has been warned to expect cuts of at least 10 per cent over the next three years, as the NHS takes steps to tackle overspending.

This means fewer students will be able to enrol on the courses. June Girvin, the dean of the school of health and social care, said fewer people would enter the medical profession as a result.

About 1,200 students are currently enrolled at the school. This will drop to 1,068 by 2009-10. It also means job cuts might have to be made. She said: “This is a big issue for us. We’re trying to deal with it as quickly as we can, because of the uncertainty for staff.

“It’s a hugely frustrating situation as it’s largely out of our control. Staff cuts will depend on savings made in other areas, but it could mean 15 to 20 job losses in the school.”

A total of 280 staff are employed at the school.

The dean added: “This isn’t just a local issue. It’s happening across the UK. The big problem is that the short-term approach to making savings in the NHS will have a long-term effect on the future of the NHS workforce. It means there will be far fewer nurses and midwives. We have a very successful school here. We’re having to make difficult decisions through no fault of our own.”

The school of technology is also facing problems, because of a decline in the number of international students wanting to take up courses.

A spokesman said: “The downturn in the numbers of international students wanting to study some technical subjects means the school is seeking to achieve savings of £300,000 in the coming year.”

Vice Chancellor Graham Upton said: “The university has some difficult decisions to make in these two schools.  I want to emphasise, however, that overall the university is in a strong financial position, is continuing to invest in its academic programmes and remains an extremely popular choice for students.

“We cannot absorb NHS funding cuts and subsidise areas that are nationally under pressure. This would only endanger the quality of our students’ education right across the university and jeopardise our growing research expertise.”

He assured staff and students that jobs would be protected “as far as possible”.