Staff at a controversial Welsh university have condemned their institution for spending over £3 million on 91 severance payments, The Eye can disclose.
Shock figures released by Cardiff University show that during five years to September 2016, £3,117,517.38 was spent on the ‘settlement agreements’.
The alarming statistics were disclosed to the University and College Union (UCU).
One Cardiff University staff member told us: “These figures are extraordinary.
“We are always being told to tighten our belts, and they spend this kind of money to get rid of people.”
The news comes hard on the heels of how we revealed that Cardiff University was offering academic staff voluntary severance before other media outlets took up the identical story.
On September 13, we reported that the university – the only Welsh institution in the elite ‘Russell Group’ – had advised that it was “offering academic staff a time-limited opportunity to apply for severance under a Voluntary Severance (VS) Scheme”.
Five days later WalesOnline reported: “Cardiff University is offering academic staff voluntary severance in a move it says will enable it to focus on strategic priorities”.
Confirming the disclosure officially at the time, the university said in a statement: “Cardiff University is sustainable and financially sound.
“However, the Higher Education sector as a whole is facing a challenging period financially.”
Yet this is not the first time The Eye has broken an important story, which was then taken up by the mainstream media.
Our journalists were the first to report on November 4 that singing star and broadcaster Aled Jones was suddenly dropped from the airwaves with BBC Radio Wales.
New schedules were to be published by The BBC, after their popular Sunday programme hosted by the highly-successful personality did not appear.
The BBC told The Eye at the time, they do “make changes to when programmes run”.
Then on November 19 a very different story emerged in all the UK newspapers as well as on The BBC itself.
The Songs of Praise presenter would not now appear on The BBC while the broadcaster investigated alleged inappropriate behaviour more than a decade ago.
The singer and TV host from Anglesey, who found fame at the age of 12 with his top five Christmas hit Walking in the Air, said he was “deeply sorry” for any upset caused but strongly denied any “inappropriate contact”.
A spokesman for the 46-year-old said that while the matter did not relate to any broadcast work, he had voluntarily agreed not to go on the BBC while it was investigated.
Now the costs of ‘severance payments’ have also been reported by the mainstream media.
Four of the eight universities in Wales – South Wales, Bangor, Trinity St David and Aberystwyth – were reviewing spending when these figures emerged.
The news is set against a disturbing backdrop.
We showed how Brexit has prompted a worrying drop in student applications.
Bangor had said it must make cuts of £8.5 million and unions had stated that they feared 170 jobs could go.
The University of South Wales (USW) said the potential number of redundancies it would make following a consultation, had dropped from a feared 139 to 57 (one per cent of the workforce) due to a voluntary scheme.
Cardiff Metropolitan University was looking to shed 100 staff to achieve millions of pounds in savings over the next five years, and had already saved huge amounts by cutting a number of senior posts.
Now details have been divulged of the money spent in past severance packages during a ‘financially challenging period’ at Cardiff University.
Of those leaving, 52 were female and 39 male.
A breakdown by department showed that 55 of the leavers were from the College of Biomedical and Life Scences, 24 from Professional Services, 7 from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and 5 from the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering.
A spokesman for the university said: “The number of (settlement agreements) cases and the amount spent by the university over the last five years should be seen in context.
“The university employs some 7,000 staff and spends about £277 million every year on staff salaries.”
Despite this context, spending over £3 million pounds may sound like a lot to get rid of 91 people.
Teaching the value of money part two is tomorrow – where more staff at Cardiff University criticise their management for making people redundant.
Next Monday – Edwin Phillips reads the official university view of how they are spending millions of pounds to sack people.