York St John University has announced it is considering redundancies as part of plans to save millions of pounds.

Around 30 jobs are at risk, including 12 academic roles across seven different subject areas, a university spokesperson said.

Almost 500 students have signed an open letter to the university's vice chancellor Karen Bryan about the proposals.

“As students, we are appalled by the recent announcement that as part of the university’s efforts to make £4.8 million of savings, redundancies of frontline staff are being considered,” the letter says.

“We are further appalled by the lack of transparency and consultation with students surrounding the planned measures to make savings.”

Staff whose jobs are at risk have been sent redundancy letters and a consultation process is now underway.

The university is facing “similar financial challenges” to universities across the UK, the spokesperson said, adding that these “largely” result from fixed incomes and rising costs.

“Due to government changes to the visa process, we are also preparing for a forecasted drop in international students, which means increasing our savings target,” they said.

The money saving proposals were previously shared with staff and students.

Staff were told in February 2024 that the university had to save between £4-5 million before the end of the year and redundancies were “inevitable”, the students’ open letter says.

But students claim they did not receive “formal communication” of the changes, despite the “drastic impact” redundancies would have on their “university experience and wellbeing”.

The university spokesperson said: “We have been transparent about the reasons why these cost saving proposals have been put forward for consultation and our primary focus is to ensure our students’ experience is protected, whilst also reflecting changing demand for subjects or services. 

“The proposals do not include any reduction in student support, wellbeing provision or quality of learning. Proposing staff savings has been a last resort.”

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They said the “proposals include both non-staff savings and potential redundancies”.

“We have done everything possible to avoid redundancies and 70 per cent of our cost savings proposals do not relate to staff cuts.”

Students 'deeply concerned' about proposals

The open letter says that students continue to feel the strain of external factors like the cost of living crisis, adding: “University staff, academic and non-academic, provide essential support that facilitates our academic and personal success.

“As students, we are deeply concerned about the impact that planned redundancies and associated stress of job insecurity will have on staff, and as a result, on the student body.”

The university spokesperson said: “Obviously, it is a very difficult time for anyone directly affected, and our priority now is to support them.

“All cost-saving proposals are now being considered during a period of collective consultation and any proposed redundancies or redeployment will not be confirmed until the end of June.”