The Unite union has raised a red flag over shared services in the tertiary education sector, claiming any such moves will lead to job losses.
It’s picking on the example of Lancaster and Liverpool Universities, which are reportedly in exploratory talks, and in the wake of already signed shared service agreements between the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Nottingham.
As far as the union is concerned, the talks are “the tip of the iceberg” and could lead to mergers of online, admin and back end services, even departments, at the UK’s 160 such bodies.
“Unite is concerned that services could be merged with potential for job losses,” its national officer for education, Mike Robinson, said. “We call on the senior management of both Liverpool and Lancaster universities to make clear any closer co-operation will not result in compulsory job losses.”
Liverpool employs 8,300 staff and Lancaster 5,200 - numbers which shared services will clearly affect, he added.
Robinson also points to the example of when the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and University of Manchester merged in 2004, there were job losses and campus sell-offs.
Both Liverpool and Lancaster are competing for overseas students, particularly in the People’s Republic of China.