On Tuesday 2nd May, University Council met to agree the next steps of its cost saving measures. The University announced in January that they are reducing their budget by 13% in order to tackle a £45million deficit over the next three years. Two of the full-time Student Officers of UEASU are voting members of University Council – the highest governing body of the University, who are responsible for agreeing the final plans.
We believed that attending University Council in our capacity as student representatives was enough to ensure that student feedback was listened to: we were wrong.
It has become apparent that the University has no plan to consult with or listen to the student body. We will therefore continue to oppose the current plan at every opportunity.
If you are a first or second year, you are at risk of:
- Having your course changed without consultation
- Having your chosen modules discontinued
If you are about to graduate, you are at risk of:
- UEA's reputation being devalued, lowering the overall worth of your degree
We, the undersigned, as students of the University of East Anglia, are writing to you to urge you to reconsider the proposed cost saving plans that will come before University Council on May 22nd.
Students across all faculties and year groups are concerned for the future of UEA. We have still not received any information about what is in the proposed plans being considered by University Council, despite calls for open financial transparency. What we do know – that the University has reported a budget deficit of £30m for 2023/24, rising to £45m within three years, which it plans to tackle with an ‘Accelerated Strategic Review Programme’ is enough to cause alarm. With no plans to communicate their strategy for tackling the deficit to students, Union Council, the highest representative body within the Students’ Union, declared on Wednesday 3rd May, that they had no confidence in the Executive Team of the University.
We understand that the financial situation is extremely difficult, and we recognise that there have been many major challenges for UEA over the past few years. We want to work with the Executive Team to develop a plan which is truly in the interest of students, but we cannot do so while student consultation is not being sought.
We, the student body, have received no communication about how the proposals might impact students. Any cuts to LTS (The Learning and Teaching Services) and STS (Student Support Services, responsible for Wellbeing advice and support) risk damaging the student experience on campus, both from an academic and student services perspective. Cuts to LTS and STS risk significantly increasing wait times, resulting in a substantial impact to student mental health and wellbeing.
The University’s Student Protection Plan lays out the mitigations in place in instances where UEA is no longer able to continue with the delivery of a course. The Student Protection Plan does not allow for substantial course changes due to major staff changes, without student consultation. We therefore call on the Executive Team to publish the financial plan to students and to lay out how all the conditions of their Student Protection Plan will be met if the proposals are voted through.
The current levels of uncertainty about the future of the institution are having a huge impact on the anxiety and morale of students, towards whom UEA has a duty of care. We are still uncertain as to whether our lecturers, supervisors and advisors will remain here for the duration of our degrees; we are uncertain whether financial support will exist when we are already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis; we are uncertain whether we will continue to be able to access academic and student support services. Until UEA commits to open and meaningful consultation with the students, we have no confidence in their ability to address these concerns and no confidence that the current cost saving proposals are in the interest of students.
We therefore call on University Council members to vote NO the current proposals and to meet with students at the earliest opportunity to work meaningfully on an alternative plan which protects students.
As our first action to mitigate what we laid out above, we have written an open letter to the university laying out our demands, but the open letter is only as strong as the number of students that back it. Therefore, we are asking for you to lend your support and sign the open letter to show the university that you are not willing to let university management jeopardise your future.