Business school sheds staff and courses as visa rules bite (UK)

By David Matthews

More than 150 posts to go as London Met is forced to tighten its belt. David Matthews reports.

London Metropolitan University is to cut 40 per cent of the staff and three-quarters of the courses at its business school in an urgent bid to save money, and has severed a partnership with a private college after less than a year, it has emerged.

A total of 152 posts will be shed across the school because of the need to “act decisively to ensure the University’s future sustainability”, according to an email sent to staff by its dean, Stephen Perkins. “The long-term decline in student numbers within the Business School and the international factors in 2012-13, along with the intense competition within London” make the staff cuts necessary, Professor Perkins writes.

In August, the UK Border Agency revoked the university’s right to sponsor international students, citing problems with student record-keeping and other failures. This has caused financial problems at the university that forced it to call off a £74 million outsourcing project in October.

Despite the cuts, which according to the university amount to around 40 per cent of staff at the school, the university will continue to teach the same number of business students, around 5,000. All positions below dean are at risk, and the university has started a 90-day consultation period with staff and students.

This is not the first time that London Met has radically cut the number of courses it offers. In April 2011, it declared that the number of undergraduate courses on offer would shrink from 557 to 160, with history, philosophy and the performing arts among the subjects scrapped.

The news comes as it emerged that a partnership between London Met and the private London School of Business and Finance has fallen through. In April, the pair announced that London Met would validate business courses at the school and sponsor international students.

One of the motivations for the partnership – which would have eventually encompassed 5,000 students – was that because the international students were sponsored by London Met, they would be allowed to work while studying, a right granted to university students but not those sponsored by private colleges such as the LSBF.

In a joint statement, the institutions say: “Both parties have agreed that, although much had been achieved during this period, given the basis on which the partnership had begun, and the changes in the higher education market, it would be better for each institution to take independent paths.”

Both confirmed that the loss of London Met’s licence had been one of the reasons the partnership had ended but there was also a “range of contributing factors”, on which they did not elaborate.

The 205 students already enrolled on London Met-validated programmes at the LSBF will continue to be taught towards a degree from the university, the statement says.
The LSBF was given a judgement of confidence by the Quality Assurance Agency in a review for educational oversight – a precondition of a licence to sponsor international students – released on 12 December.

Source: Times Higher Education