Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Guardian raises questions over equality impact of LMU's job cuts

from The Guardian, 04/08/09

Are universities failing to assess the impact of job cuts on equality and on the gender and ethnic balance of staff?

Universities across the country are planning drastic job cuts and as many as 6,000 university staff face the axe. The umbrella group Universities UK (UUK) insists that institutions "have a good track record in handling staffing changes in an open and fair way". But union officials claim that half of those planning job cuts are breaking the law by failing to assess what impact the decisions will have.

Three laws – the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2006 – require universities to assess the impact of their current and proposed policies on race, disability and gender equality. But many still struggle to meet their obligations, with institutions often lacking the systems in place to do impact assessment at the initiation of a policy, rather than after it is impossible to change it.

"The public sector duties require institutions to promote equality," explains Rachel Curley, head of equality at the University and College Union (UCU). "The specific duty to assess the impact of policies and procedures is an important instrument in achieving this objective. The English funding council, Hefce, gave universities guidance on the issue in 2004, so it is disturbing that so many institutions are still not compliant."

According to UCU, of the 43 institutions which have indicated that jobs will be lost, at least 21 have failed to produce adequate impact assessments.

One institution raising serious concerns is London Metropolitan University (LMU), which plans to make 550 voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

Read the full article here

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