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Job cuts amid threat to close modern language department at University of Hull

12 February 2021

UCU has today condemned the University of Hull's decision to sack the UCU branch president and put other staff at risk of redundancy.

Just days after making UCU branch president Keith Butler compulsorily redundant, the university confirmed plans to suspend its modern language provision, putting more staff at risk of losing their jobs. The university is also reviewing its passport languages provision, when students opt to include language as part of other studies,  creating more uncertainty for staff and students in this subject area. This is less than two years since the university previously reviewed both areas and made job cuts. The university has closed applications to its modern language courses and will stop running them altogether by October 2022.

During the first national lockdown, potential redundancies were deferred due to the pandemic and the union described the sacking of the branch president as a wilful attack on its members, calling for him to be reinstated. UCU has also called for the modern language provision at the university to be saved, and said that if compulsory redundancies are not ruled out then members will register a formal dispute and trigger steps for industrial action.

UCU regional official Julie Kelley said: 'The sacking of the branch president Keith Butler can only be regarded as opportunistic and an attack on our members, especially as other options were available to the university to prevent this redundancy. It seems as though the university leadership has made a conscious decision to make the branch president redundant.

'The closure of modern language courses and further threats to passport languages not only damages the University of Hull's international standing it also puts its reputation for social justice in question. Staff at the University have endured nearly two years of restructuring and it is very disappointing that the branch president has been sacked and put further jobs have been put at risk.

'The university should consider the proposals put forward by staff to continue with the provision of modern languages and rule out compulsory redundancies. Industrial action is a last resort for our members but if the decision to cut courses and jobs is not reversed, we will be forced to consider further action'.