Staff at Kingston University (KU) have spoken out against "inhumane" cuts to courses and staff announced by the university recently.

KU workers represented by the UCU union said they were "stunned" after learning that the university plans to "permanently withdraw" history provision and research, some two years after closing its history course in 2019.

UCU said that the three remaining historians at KU face "compulsory redundancy", while other staff cuts such as a "nearly 40 per cent" reduction in staff teaching Media and Communications and Film Studies has also hit humanities provision at the university.

Meanwhile, the union decried the ongoing consultation with Politics staff at KU who they said were being "kept in the dark about how many jobs were to be cut, are now facing a further consultation ending July 31st..."

As the Surrey Comet reported previously, KU announced earlier this year that it was suspending the recruitment of new undergraduates to its Politics course for the coming academic year starting September 2021, citing falling recruitment numbers signing up to the course.

Staff represented by UCU said following the announcement that the university had told them it was considering "course closures and job losses" that could impact up to 50 members of staff at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences (Politics Department) and Kingston School of Art (Film Cultures, Media and Communication and History).

A spokesperson for UCU described the impact on staff at the university they said has been caused by KU's proposals:

"Staff have described the mental health impact of losing their livelihoods during a pandemic, in which they have made exceptional efforts to teach and support students, as "inhumane".

"They’ve described the consultation process as a "sham" in which none of the issues raised over errors and omissions in the rationale, or counter proposals put forwards, were engaged with, and substantive decisions had already been taken."

The spokesperson added that, in Kingston UCU's view, there had "not been meaningful consultation about avoiding, reducing or mitigating job losses," with staff.

The union's branch committee released an additional statement suggesting KU's approach stood in disregard for the hard work of humanities staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Despite the herculean efforts of staff to provide quality teaching during the Covid pandemic, Kingston University managers have ignored such loyalty and hard work with shocking insensitivity and a callous disregard for such commitment," the statement read.

Dr Steven Woodbridge, Senior Lecturer in History, added that history staff at KU had been left "stunned" by the current situation.

"Kingston's History staff are stunned at this outcome," he said.

"The decision to axe all history provision flies in the face of promises the University made to retain a history 'footprint' and ensure future engagement with the study of history.

"The University has also completely ignored the voices of national organisations who represent the history profession and who expressed their concern at Kingston's plans, such as History UK and the Royal Historical Society," Woodbridge said.


The Surrey Comet approached KU for comment on the issues raised by the union workers.

In response, a spokesperson for the university said:

"Earlier this year, the University announced that, after careful consideration, it had taken the decision to suspend undergraduate student recruitment to politics courses for admissions in September 2021 for the coming academic year. Recruitment to these courses has been falling in recent years.

"The University has been carrying out a review of wider plans for the politics department, in consultation with staff, students and trade union representatives, over the past few months.

"A decision has been taken to close future undergraduate recruitment for politics, with students already enrolled supported to complete their degrees at the University.

"The University will still be offering postgraduate politics provision and politics as a cognate area will continue to be taught as part of modules within other undergraduate programmes in the School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences.

"Following proposals from staff, a merger of politics as a discipline within the Department of Criminology and Sociology is being taken forward as part of a second period of consultation.

"The University remains committed to minimising any risk of potential redundancy by redeploying staff wherever possible."