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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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How many more jobs will go?

Angry workers at Wales’ only university in the elite ‘Russell Group’, where The Eye was the first to reveal that jobs will go in order to save millions of pounds, are poring over an emailed document which shows pay and staff numbers have flatlined while the numbers of students have soared, we can reveal.

We disclosed how staff are to be offered “a new Voluntary Severance Scheme to cover the whole University” at Cardiff University which will be open for applications from January 3 to May 31- which was then covered by the mainstream media in Wales days later.

It all comes down to money…

The Eye reported how officials in a message to staff entitled “Transforming Cardiff’ said they wanted to “move from a deficit position of £21m last academic year to a surplus position of £24m in two years’ time”.

Now unsettled workers at the university have been sent analysis with graphs from colleagues using internal mailing lists which appears to paint a very different picture.

Figures need to be checked closely

One statement in the analysis called “Resist Transforming Cardiff” reads:  Staff pay has stayed flat whichever way you look at it – and it does not matter whether you take inflation into account or not”

It continues “… staff increases have lagged both in timing and in size well behind the increase of students.

The flatness of average staff pay is quite contrary to what … has (been) insinuated and chimes nicely with the point that ratio of staff costs to income is, in itself, fairly meaningless.

It’s all a game when it comes to figures

(have) we have too many staff? No…”

The analysis forms a stark backdrop to the figures in the official message to staff sent by the controversial Vice-Chancellor (VC) Colin Riordan, announcing the job cuts.

He said:  “This (moving to a surplus of £24 million in two years) is a challenging target, but one that is eminently achievable so long as we take a strategic approach… last year our income only rose by 2.5% whilst our expenditure rose by 5.2%”.

All universities will be affected by Brexit

Professor Riordan also outlined the dangers facing Cardiff University with Brexit chief among them.

He warned:  “The prospect of leaving the EU in a disorderly fashion at 11pm on 29 March is undoubtedly the least palatable from a University point of view. The potential disruption to staff and students, to our research, teaching, travel and recruitment would add significantly to the many difficult issues we are already dealing with”.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) Colin Riordan confirmed the news broken on The Eye

The Eye disclosed a day before the message was sent that more jobs were to be axed as part of the university’s voluntary redundancy programme, and after it was officially confirmed it was then followed up by the mainstream media.

We have also revealed earlier severance schemes at the institution, which were also covered later by the mainstream media in Wales.

The union does not fly the flag for Cardiff University

In September last year The Eye were the first to disclose that internal documents showed how Cardiff University had decided to offer “academic staff a time-limited opportunity to apply for severance under a Voluntary Severance (VS) Scheme”.

Then the union for academic staff, University and College Union (UCU), told their members at the university:  “… we remain highly critical of the culture of management and managerialism at Cardiff University”.


The mainstream media followed up The Eye story aterwards

The latest shock news, and Professor Riordan’s comments, have confirmed reports that the sector is under enormous pressure because of Brexit, with or without a deal.

The vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal is on Tuesday, and it is thought she will lose.

Brexit has been a continual problem for all universities in the UK.

Theresa May faces defeat in the House of Commons

Cardiff University had its credit rating slashed following the Brexit vote, with Moody’s changing the outlook from stable to negative.

Cardiff was one of eight top British universities who had its credit status downgraded amid concerns that curbs to free movement would hit recruitment of academics and students.

Among the others were Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Keele and De Montfort in Leicester.

Griff Rhys Jones in full regalia before it all collapsed

But Cardiff University has been no stranger to embarrassments in the past.

More than three years ago it was at the centre of a storm of controversy over the sudden withdrawal of the appointment of Griff Rhys Jones as Chancellor.

The comedian had already posed for pictures in his ceremonial robes.

Student numbers are increasing

The university was forced to dismiss claims it was shuffling its long-standing governance structure in the wake of the botched attempt to appoint Mr Jones.

The Nobel Prize winner Sir Martin Evans agreed to a second term as Chancellor following Mr Jones’ decision to rule himself out of becoming the university’s new figurehead to avoid “any further complication”.

Unfortunately there is also a further complication with the new redundancies announcement at Cardiff University – some staff appear to be unconvinced by the figures.


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