The University of York has no plan to tackle disruption after hundreds of staff leave through voluntary severance, an education union claims.

York’s University and College Union branch estimates that between 300 and 700 staff members would have to leave if the Russell Group university is to make a necessary £34 million in savings, on top of the £30 million it has already saved.

The university has not disclosed the exact number of jobs at risk but The Press understands that the number is closer to 300.

A spokesperson for York’s University and College Union branch told The Press that staff who take voluntary severance would leave by October 31 – midway through the first semester of teaching.

The University of YorkThe University of York (Image: Supplied)

This, they said, will cause “severe disruption to students and staff alike”.

The spokesperson added they had been told there was "not a plan for continuity at department or institution level" when staff depart, which would "place at risk teaching and learning for students".

The spokesperson said they are yet to find out where cuts will be made.

But they said the large number of staff leaving alone would have serious consequences.

“This risks the ability to teach some courses, to conduct essential research, to undertake essential administration and attract research income are all at risk and due to the fact that all roles lost through voluntary severance cannot be filled again, the loss will be permanent,” they said. “Our concern is, how is this a sensible plan for the short and medium term?” 

Proposals could 'downgrade quality of degrees', claims union

They added that the university is proposing to change the way “essential activities are undertaken, such as creating and assuring degrees and marking”.

The spokesperson claimed these "proposals would simply act to downgrade the quality of degrees at York".

The University of York declined to respond directly to the concerns raised by the union.

A university spokesperson said: “Like many others in the sector, we continue to face increasing costs and York has moved quickly to manage its finances and put in place a series of strategic measures to return to a surplus, which includes significantly reducing our operating costs, pausing major capital programmes and a voluntary severance scheme.

 “York is one of only four universities to have won the top Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award and be in the top 10 in the Research Excellence Framework, matched only by Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial.

 “To protect our position as one of the UK’s top performing universities we need to work differently, focusing time and effort on the highest level research outcomes and the work that brings the most benefit for students.

 “We appreciate this may be an unsettling time for some colleagues and we are doing all we can to protect jobs while ensuring our resilience against continuing volatility.”