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The truths they don't want you to read....

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

UHI to face cuts

This is something I've been aware of for some time, but the public announcement that Capita are on the prowl to look at the governance of the UHI has sent shivers through the tiers of management, and right down to the lecturing staff.

They know - as we know - that a 'review of governance' means cuts.

And this 'review of governance' is being led through by the junior Minister for Cutting Education, Mr Allan.

I am told that the expectation is that functions will be centralised, leaving only nominal control and responsibility in the discrete locations.

Far be it from me to suggest that the review is a sham, but Inverness are already gearing up to receive some of the posts; which are expected to include much of the finance function and many of the administrative functions.

I'm told that there will be a move to centralise staffing and HR functions, which will also mean that staff may face the prospect of being moved between locations, as courses evolve.

Who will welcome the birth of the University of Inverness, and the loss of local autonomy?


Anonymous said...

Weird - it's almost like you were reading my email conversations when you wrote that post...

I refer you to this:

Point of fact. The university is in the right subject areas - with the wrong demographic of students. They were supposed to attract very high paying students from e.g. China's growing renewables industry. Which would in effect (though not directly as that's a legally grey area) support more local students.

It hasn't worked out. The institution is haemoraging money, and this was before the recent spending storms. The next academic year it'll be involved in far fewer things, and centralisation - in other words, more expensive jobs on the fringes - have to go.

It's not helped that some senior people in UHI openly loathe the extra expense of the islands, and the logistical difficulties. Regularly, the suggestion is "informally" floated that the UH is viable in the long term, but the UHI is not.

Also, in terms of the quality of research - from a national, let alone an international - perspective, UHI is very poor, whichever standard metrics are applied. An academic institution of this level of funding should be doing much better, just to be average. But it isn't. And there's no sign of it improving - rather, the signs point the other way.

It's left Scotland's government in a quandry. It can't shut it down, as that would mean the possible loss of several crucial rural seats, and calls that the government is anti-education. It can't merge, as no other university will touch it with a bargepole. The VC of one of the other Scottish universities - one of the biggest - laughed rather publicly when this was suggested to him.

There's a more serious reason why UHI is doomed as it is, but you will get serious legal hassle if I write it on here, so I can't. I predict a slow but steady centralisation and contraction, with the university eventually becoming a small, single-campus institution in Inverness, marketed more blatantly to high fee paying students and researchers from outside the EU. By 2020, there will be several FE-level colleges much bigger than the UH(I).

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a good idea if people were able to train on the island for skills which are needed on the island. You can hardly get a plumber, electrician, joiner, plasterer...and wait months for a decent one. We could also do with some administrators and a few more accountants to help people to keep between the fences with that pesky funding for 'community' projects.

Anonymous said...

8:30 - UHI would not have the financial challenges it has if it was funded for all the HE students it teaches - currently funded for 3,400 students but teaches 4,300!
As to your comments about research - UHI may appear to be poor in relation to 'whichever standard metrics are applied' but these metrics have to be considered in the context of the funding it receives for Research. I'm not convinced it's as poor as you think.

Angus - on the issue of the 'University of Inverness' there is always a danger that any organisation will attempt to centralise everything - this is based on the misconception that big is best and that a command and control approach to management actually works. The UHI partnership has many strengths and many good people - don't be too quick to write it off - that would be a mistake - just as big a mistake as our friends in Inverness thinking that they have all the right answers and that they are the only solution.

Anonymous said...

biggest danger to Colleges is not UHI but Scottish Government. Cuts of 10+% this year with further cuts of 10+% next year and more cuts in the years after. these aren't cuts in real terms but actual cash cuts. Not a very wise thing to do with economy in the state it's in!

Anonymous said...

Strange isn't it? Bloggers will complain when all the satellites of UHI are bing centralised in Inverness but are panting with glee when Tesco proposes increasing in size which we all know will result in local closures of smaller shops.

You are right. The achievement of University status by UHI may yet prove to be a pyrrhic victory for Lews Castle.