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University of Southampton advertises for chauffeur after putting 75 jobs at risk

20 November 2017

Just days after announcing that 75 lecturers' jobs are at risk at the University of Southampton, it has been revealed that the university is advertising for a chauffeur. The advertisement says that the job will involve "providing a chauffeur and car service to university executives and visiting dignitaries". 

The University and College Union (UCU) said advertising for a chauffeur whilst getting rid of up to 75 academics showed contempt for the staff and would inevitably invite questions about the priorities of the leadership team at the university. 

The university says it wants to get rid of the academic staff to reduce staff costs, but it has already slashed the proportion of money it spends on staff. A decade ago 60% of the university's income went on staff costs. That figure is now just 53%.

At the same time, senior salaries have ballooned, although the vice-chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden's £350,000 pay and benefits package was recently criticised publicly by universities minister Jo Johnson.

UCU says the plans to axe academics risks damaging to Southampton's reputation and ability to offer top-class education. New research has revealed that students cite their lecturers and the quality of teaching as the number one factor when it comes to judging excellence.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'For years UCU has been highlighting how out of touch vice-chancellors look when it comes to their own pay and perks. They are happy to keep down staff pay and conditions yet see nothing wrong with accepting inflation-busting pay rises and all the perks.

'Advertising for a chauffeur for the executives while threatening to axe as many as 75 academic posts is insulting and shows contempt for the staff. This move will, understandably, raise further questions about the priorities of the senior managers at Southampton.'

The university intends to confirm the first cohort of staff to leave on 19 December, just ahead of the Christmas break.