More than 15,000 university jobs at risk from Mandelson’s cuts, warns union

More than 15,000 university jobs could be shed over the next few years as a result of Peter Mandelson’s budget cuts, a higher education union has warned.

Other plans include using post-graduates rather than professors for teaching and postponing major building projects, according to the Guardian. Some institutions may be forced to ditch courses and close campuses.

The proposals have already provoked ballots for industrial action at many universities in the past week.

It follows the business secretary’s announcement that university budgets will be reduced by £449 million for 2010-11, equivalent to a 5% reduction.

The University and College Union (UCU) estimated at least 15,000 jobs could go nationwide, and most of the positions lost would be academic. Vice-chancellors and other senior staff at 25 universities contacted by the newspaper said the funding cuts were “painful” and “insidious”.

More than 200 job losses at King’s College, London, 700 at Leeds, 340 at Sheffield Hallam, and 300 at Hull, are expected.

Entire campus closures are anticipated at Cumbria and Wolverhampton universities, where buildings will be mothballed and students transferred to other sites, the paper added.

Ballots for industrial action are due to be held or are pending at the University of Sussex Arts, University College London, the University of Gloucestershire and King’s College London. Lecturers at Leeds – where 750 posts are at risk – voted by a large majority to strike this week.

Mandelson said: “We know that universities have a vital contribution to our economic growth, so we are not going to undermine them. We are asking for savings of less than 5% and we expect universities to make these in a way that minimises the impact on teaching and students. I am confident they will.”

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