Course closures and staff reductions - information for students
Information for students in relation to the proposed closure of Music and Mathematics courses, and staff reductions in Anthropology, English and Creative Writing, History, Film and Architecture, as part of University cost-saving measures.
Update 2 February:
Last week (Friday 26 January) the Vice-Chancellor issued a statement confirming the outcome of the consultation on the University’s proposed cost savings measures. The University has written directly to students on affected programmes to provide further information on the decisions that have been made and how the University will be supporting students.
As part of his announcement, the Vice-Chancellor confirmed that Voluntary Severance (VS) would be offered to staff in a wider range of programmes and teams, which would allow the redundancy process to be put on hold in some academic areas where reductions have already been achieved through VS or voluntary reductions in working hours.
The University has now confirmed the additional programmes and teams who are eligible to apply for VS. These have been chosen as the Vice-Chancellor’s Group believes that it may be possible to accept a small number of VS applications in these areas and to continue to deliver high standards of teaching without placing unreasonable burdens on staff who remain. This process is intended to help the University achieve its financial savings without recourse to compulsory redundancies.
There is absolutely no obligation for colleagues within these additional programmes and teams to apply for VS, and there will be no negative consequences for those who choose not to do so. If no-one applies for VS from these additional areas, this will not mean that we will seek to reduce staff posts in these areas through compulsory redundancies.
The University will ensure that changes to staffing structures will not compromise students’ ability to continue and complete their studies. Faculty staff will ensure that you continue to be taught to the same high standards and that support services remain in place. If there are any material changes to your course as a result of staffing changes (for example, a change in the modules available to you), these will be discussed with you.
We will continue to update this page to explain how the process is progressing. If you are uncertain about the impact of these decisions, please contact either your Programme Lead, if your question relates to the specifics of your course, or the Student Central Advice Team (email@example.com) if you have a practical question about anything outside of your course. Don’t worry if you’re not sure who to contact, or if your questions bridge multiple items, as either group will be able to help you best direct your question.
Update 22 December: Timeline of proposed staff reductions - see point 12.
1. Can I get an exit award and transfer institutions? Can I choose to leave now and get a rebate of this year's tuition fees?
You can apply to change subjects through the standard subject change process. You can leave and take accumulated credit with you. If you have an appropriate amount of credit to be eligible for an exit award, then this may be a possibility. You can discuss your situation with your Academic Advisor or your Student Support Coordinator.
You will not be able to receive a rebate of all tuition fees to date, but please see the information on requesting a fee refund for potential refund eligibility.
2. What about my accommodation contract? If I leave now can I stay in student accommodation and receive the council tax reduction?
No - if you leave the University, you will need to surrender your 'licence to occupy' in University-owned accommodation, and you may be liable for any outstanding appropriate charges. You would need to consult your tenancy agreement with any third-party providers to determine whether or not you could or would be released from your contract if you were to leave the University.
3. If I leave, how does this impact my visa?
If you leave the University, you will no longer be sponsored by the University. The ending of our sponsorship would be reported to the Home Office and your visa would be cancelled. The International Student Advice Team can give individual advice based on your situation.
4. What happens if I can't get the support I need from my department?
Hopefully you will receive all the support that you require from your department, but if you feel that you are not receiving the support you are expecting from your department, please contact your Associate Dean Education and Student Experience:
- Humanities and Social Sciences: Dr Dominic Corrywright
- Technology, Design and Environment: Lucy Turner
5. I specifically wanted to do a particular module with a particular member of academic staff - what are my rights in relation to the Competition and Markets Authority if I can't do that anymore?
The terms and conditions of offer for all students, which are accepted through the offer-making and enrolment process, state that "there will be rare occasions when the University needs to make changes to your published programme either before or after your enrolment." One of these changes could be where key staff have left the University or are otherwise not available. This could happen at any time a student is studying - not simply due to course closures.
The University is committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to continue with their chosen programme of study. We will notify you if we had to make a material change to your programme, and work with you to understand and lessen the effect of this on your position. We commit to keeping an ongoing dialogue with you to minimise the impacts of any material changes that may occur.
6. How will this affect my employment opportunities in the future?
None of the proposals are a reflection on the quality of the teaching and learning in any of the identified areas, and there is no reason to believe that any future employment opportunities would be negatively impacted.
7. What is happening with the Student Support Coordinators and Academic Advisors? Are they reducing those too?
There are no plans to reduce Student Support Coordinators. If staff who ultimately leave the organisation are Academic Advisors, then by definition the total number of Academic Advisors will decrease in those particular areas - but the University commits to ensuring that all students still have the opportunity to access Academic Advisors as articulated in the academic advising policy
8. I don't feel I've had value for money while my course is closing down - what are my rights? Can my fees be reduced in recognition of the reduced service?
All students have an opportunity to complain if they feel that they have not received something to which they are entitled. The student complaint process is the route for students to seek remedy. If students are not satisfied having exhausted the University's internal complaints procedures, then the Office for the Independent Adjudicator may, if deemed eligible, review the University's decision.
9. Am I still able to apply for approved temporary withdrawal, be a sabbatical officer or do a year abroad.
In terms of approved temporary withdrawal and year abroad, it may depend upon your specific circumstances and your programme structure, so it is probably a good idea to discuss your situation with your Academic Advisor or Student Support Coordinator. In terms of being a sabbatical officer, you are eligible to run but you should consider the impact on your long-term experience. Where we aim to complete a teach-out, individuals may find themselves to be on their own on the programme. If you are considering being a sabbatical officer and where you are not currently in your final year, then please discuss with Brookes Union.
10. What about those who have deferred admission?
Deferred admission applicants are contacted as part of the course closure process, and they will have an opportunity to consider the options available to them with the Admissions team.
11. What other support is available?
If you are affected by the cost-saving consultations and require further help, remember you can contact our Student Support Services. You can see the full range of available support and advice on the Student support and wellbeing webpage.
12. Timeframe for staff reduction consultation
The University’s proposal to reduce staff posts is affecting programmes in:
- English and Creative Writing
For most programmes, these are the key dates in the process:
|Start of consultation period - formal discussions with staff and trade unions begin
|14 November 2023
|Deadline for staff to apply for voluntary severance (an agreement between the staff member and the University to end the staff member’s employment at Oxford Brookes).
|13 December 2023
|The University wrote to staff who applied for voluntary severance to tell them if their application had been accepted or rejected. Staff who received an offer had until 20 December to accept it.
|14 December 2023
|The University wrote to all staff at risk to tell them if they remained at risk after the voluntary severance process (some were told they were no longer at risk because there had been enough volunteers from their programme and grade to achieve the required savings)
|21 December 2023
|End of consultation period - alternative proposals must be received by the University by this date.
|17 January 2024
|The Vice-Chancellor’s group will consider all the feedback received during the consultation process and decide whether to proceed to compulsory redundancies
|22 January 2024
By this date, the University will confirm:
If the proposal goes ahead, staff will be informed:
|25 January 2024
|Deadline for staff to apply for the posts within the new structure.
|6 February 2024
|The University will confirm which staff have roles in the new structure and which staff remain at risk of compulsory redundancy.
|By 16 February 2024
|Staff given formal notice of redundancy
|Late February 2024
|Appeal processes, where applicable
Continuing efforts to redeploy any staff members given notice of redundancy
|March - April 2024
|Last working day for staff whose roles were made redundant
|31 May 2024
|Implementation of new staffing structure
|1 June 2024
This timeline may be adapted where needed (e.g. for programmes that are closing and need to carry out extra steps), or for resourcing reasons. This will be confirmed to students and staff affected.
13. I’m a postgraduate research student - where can I get advice?
While the University has experience of setting up transition arrangements for research students, what those arrangements look like will vary depending upon the specific circumstances of those involved, and therefore it will be important to have individual discussions about what happens next rather than attempt to offer a general answer through these FAQs.
If any student is uncertain about any of the impacts of the measures that have been consulted on, or wants to consider their next steps with a member of staff, they should contact either their Programme Lead if their question relates to the specifics of their course, or the Student Central Advice Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they have a practical question about anything outside of their course.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure who to contact, or if your questions bridge multiple items, as either group will be able to help you best direct your question.
14. What was the outcome of the consultation?
The staff consultation period ended on 17 January and the Vice-Chancellor’s Group (VCG) met earlier this week to carefully consider the staff responses, as well as feedback from students and other stakeholders within and outside the University, and reach a final decision on how the University will find the cost savings it needs.
Students on the affected courses have received emails providing them with the full details of the outcome of the consultation.
The outcomes are as follows:
VCG reviewed the feedback provided; however, they have decided that no feasible alternatives to the closure of the programme had been proposed, so the closure process will go ahead.
One member of staff has left the University voluntarily, and one member of staff was removed from being at risk to support the teach out of the programme, but we now must move to a compulsory redundancy process for two other staff members.
We remain committed to Music students, and we will ensure that this decision will not compromise their ability to continue and complete their studies. Colleagues from across the Faculty will ensure they continue to be taught to the same high standards and that support services remain in place. If there are any material changes to the course as a result of staffing changes (for example, a change in the modules available), these will be discussed with students. Research students will be supported and any changes to staffing which directly affects them, for example if their supervisor leaves, will be discussed with them.
VCG reviewed the feedback provided; however, they have decided that no feasible alternatives to the closure of the programme had been proposed, and that the closure process will go ahead.
The staff who currently teach on the Mathematics programme will stay in employment after the course closes to provide Mathematics teaching on other programmes and so they will remain at the University to support students through the remainder of their course or research.
There will be no compulsory redundancies for staff members on this programme, but there will be a reduction in the teaching carried our by Associate Lecturers next year, as proposed.
Some staff on the Anthropology programmes have voluntarily left the University and some have offered to reduce their working hours. This means there will be no staff redundancies on these programmes.
Some staff on the History programmes have voluntarily left the University and some have offered to reduce their working hours. This means there will be no staff redundancies on these programmes.
No staff left the University voluntarily from the Film team but some staff offered to reduce their working hours voluntarily. As a result, we are not looking at the moment to move to compulsory redundancies in these programmes. This is because staff in programmes elsewhere in the University might be willing to take voluntary severance (a payment to leave the University). We will explore this option and if enough savings can be made then we will not need to move to compulsory redundancies.
Some staff have voluntarily left the University from the English programme, but we will need to make more savings in these areas. However, we are not looking at the moment to move to compulsory redundancies in these programmes. This is because staff in programmes elsewhere in the University might be willing to take voluntary severance (a payment to leave the University). We will explore this option and if enough savings can be made then we will not need to move to compulsory redundancies.
A number of staff have offered to reduce their working hours, but we will need to make more savings in these areas. However, we are not looking at the moment to move to compulsory redundancies in these programmes at the moment. This is because staff in programmes elsewhere in the University might be willing to take voluntary severance (a payment to leave the University). We will explore this option and if enough savings can be made then we will not need to move to compulsory redundancies in Architecture.