Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

We’ve Got The Solution To University Job Losses Right Here

Fortunately this is a really easy problem to solve:

The new analysis suggests that over 230,000 fewer students will enter higher education in 2020 as a result of the crisis, over half of which are international students. That fall in student numbers would translate into a drop in income of around £1.51bn from non-EU students, £350 million from EU students and £612 million from UK students opting to stay away.

The report lays bare how vulnerable some of our most renowned universities are to falls in international demand, but also how widespread the financial pain might be. All 125 universities in the report would suffer substantial falls in income, leaving 91 (almost three-quarters) in a critical financial position where income only just covers expenditure.

Without a package of financial support from the government, the report’s authors estimate that over 60,000 jobs will be lost, both in universities themselves and in the local economies that surround them. Many of those jobs would be in places where the local university is amongst the biggest employers.

Well, times are hard, luxuries do have to be sliced back a bit. And yes, tertiary education is a luxury in the sense of it being a luxury good. It’s something we spend greater portions of our income upon as our incomes rise. Those incomes have just taken a massive hit. Therefore the amount spent upon tertiary education should fall by more than the percentage hit to incomes. That’s what it being a luxury good means.

One solution is simply to close the grievance studies departments. That at least has the merit of being both useful and fun. It would also take time which we’ve probably not got. Still, the solution is there, it’s even laid out for us:

It is not widely known that our global reputation is powered by an army of university staff who do not have proper job security. Around 70% of researchers in universities are employed on fixed-term contracts, while more than 100,000 university teaching staff are on temporary contracts of one kind or another.

How cool, eh? Don’t issue new contracts and we get that shrinkage of the workforce without redundancy or compo. Problem solved.

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Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
4 years ago

Close the grievance studies departments, not only for reasons of economics, but for the sake of reason itself.

Bloke in Germany
Bloke in Germany
4 years ago

Most of those fixed-term contracts are tied to specific grants. If you don’t have an employee in post, the grant funding doesn’t get paid to the university.

So, as much as you would (apparently) love to fire 60,000 trainee scientists working on sub-Dickensian contracts that would be illegal anywhere outside of a university, that isn’t going to happen.

4 years ago

I don’t think Tim wants to sack scientists (albeit I wonder why any competent scientist is working on a sub-Dickensian contract longer than it takes to qualify for a properly paid job in industry or academia). What I, at least, would like to shed are those teaching courses that only qualify graduates for a life on the dole or a deliveroo bike (burger-flipping requires separate training).

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