Philosophy & Other Humanities Fields at Kent Threatened

The administration of the University of Kent is planning to lay off faculty in its Department of Philosophy and other humanities and arts fields.

Members of the Department of Philosophy sent along the following message:

We are writing to alert readers to the fact that the philosophy department is one of several Arts and Humanities departments presently targeted for compulsory redundancies by the University of Kent.

This is not on the grounds of quality: the philosophy department was ranked 3rd in the UK for overall student satisfaction in the most recent national student survey, and 5th in the UK in terms of GPA in the most recent research assessment (2nd for quality of research outputs). The reasoning is based on finances. We understand that the local union disputes some of the figures being used.  

The first round of compulsory redundancies is due to take place in July, with more financial cuts planned for the next academic year.

The union has a petition here.

As well as defending jobs, it highlights a particular concern around an agreement they reached with senior management about redundancies. 

We in the philosophy department would very much appreciate your support.

Last fall, Kent’s vice chancellor, Karen Cox, and the university’s executive group, had issued the following statement:

Karen and the Executive Group wish to provide a further specific commitment to all Arts and Humanities staff that there will be no  compulsory redundancies as a result of the current review.

The petition provides further information:

The guarantee of no compulsory redundancies was made in October last year in response to UCU [University and College Union] opening a ballot for industrial action. The union did not pursue industrial action because of this commitment. Therefore this broken promise has prevented members from having the opportunity to defend their livelihoods.

The administration in February called for volunteers to retire in exchange for a severance package (details of which are unknown), and has is closing its Brussels campus. The administration cites the cap on tuition fees as a contributing factor, though these caps have not been newly imposed (they’ve been in place for at least five budgeting cycles), as well a “multi-million-pound impact from the number of students not staying with us to finish their studies”. It is unclear how many, if any, administrators in budgeting and marketing will be laid off.

As of the time of this article, the union’s petition, which is still open for signing, has approximately 1500 signatories.

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