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UCEA contextualises latest UCU's job loss figures

UCEA contextualises latest UCU’s job loss figures

Research published by the UCU today* suggests that there are 4,593 jobs at risk in the HE sector in the coming year, based on information collected from 45 HEIs. However, the information provided by UCU only lists 42 HEIs, and a total of 4,000 jobs at risk. The list of jobs that are suggested to be at risk contains a number of highly speculative figures; for example UCU states that some of its figures are based on rumours, while others use simple maths based on a % budgetary cut to extrapolate a head count. 

Senior management teams in any organisation make redundancies as a last resort, and will always fully consider alternatives, such as recruitment freezes and natural turnover, in the first instance. Even if UCU’s figures were correct, then their suggested job losses are 0.8% of the total HE staff number of 564,690 (or 1.2 per cent of the core staff figure of 372,460). Within Higher Education the normal annual staff turnover rate at HEIs is between 6% and 10%.

UCEA chair Professor Sir William Wakeham said:

“Despite the current financial situation and expected ongoing pressure on funding, the sector will do its utmost to preserve the student experience. But we must learn from the experiences of the past and at the same time we must preserve the physical infrastructure of HEIs and maintain the rewards given to our staff who enjoy some of the best terms and conditions and benefits in the UK economy.”


*UCU Press Release Education crisis: 6,000 jobs slashed and over 100,000 students affected as recession hits education

For the full UCU document, including the breakdown of figures see:

Background notes to Editors:

HE Staffing Levels

Of the core Higher Education (HE) staff, 53% (197,515) are support staff whilst 47% (174,945) are academic staff. There are also 192,230 ‘atypical’ staff. These are hourly paid staff and those on flexible contracts, for example guest lecturers, conference caterers and student ambassadors. Therefore UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) employ a total of more than half a million people.

The HE sector has expanded significantly since the mid-1990s. The number of academic staff rose by more than 50% from 114,721 in 1994/95 to 174,945 in 2007/08 (HESA Resources of HE 1994/5 and 2007/08).

From 2006/07 to 2007/08, academic staff numbers rose by 2.9% - nearly 5,000 – to 174,945. From 2006/07 to 2007/08, undergraduate student numbers rose by 0.2% - just over 3,000 – to 1,804,970.

During this same period, from 2006/07 to 2007/08, total HE staff numbers rose by 2.3% to 372,460 while the total student population rose by 0.1% to 2,306,105 (HESA Resources of HE 2006/07/08).

HEIs have relatively low levels of staff turnover. For the academic year 2006/07, full-time permanent staff turnover ranged from 6% for academic staff to 10% for some support staff groups. This compares with an average turnover of 17% for the economy as a whole.

For details see UCEA Facts and Figures: HE Staffing Summer 2009 at:

For further information, contact:

Marc Whittaker, UCEA Communications Officer: 020 7383 2444 or
Andy Fryer, UCEA Communications Manager: 020 7383 2444 or