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Update on Voluntary Redundancy Scheme

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Mark Fellowes, Chair of the Voluntary Redundancy Group, has today written to all staff providing an update on the University's voluntary redundancy scheme. Here is the full text of his message:

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the University’s Voluntary Redundancy (VR) Scheme.

Since the scheme closed in March, we have been working with colleagues – whose requests were accepted – on settlement agreements. This work has now been fully completed and all the resulting changes will be implemented by the end of July 2019.

The VR scheme will generate a saving of over £5 million for the University. While this figure is less than what we set out to achieve, it has been good to see colleagues engage positively with the scheme. We have seen colleagues working together to propose ways to make savings. This has included colleagues taking opportunities for flexible or reduced working. We have seen Schools and Functions respond to VR requests by considering whether they could do things differently. 

As we said when the scheme was launched, it was a means to help us manage our financial challenges. In responding to VR requests, we have been clear that accepting these should not adversely impact the University’s core activities or the experience of our students. This means that we have had to say no to requests from some colleagues. Our main objective throughout has been to use the scheme to achieve financial savings while minimising the impact on Schools and Functions.

So what next? There are several factors that determine our financial health, the most important of which is student recruitment. We will work more closely with Schools to support their recruitment activity and to identify growth areas in their subjects. We will support opportunities for Schools to work together to cross boundaries in developing attractive new modules and shared programmes, and explore together if there are any structural changes in organisation that would help us build on these ideas. Through the five-year-planning process, the Schools will also be encouraged to build financial buffers that can help them manage any short-term setbacks.

We still need to bring our finances on a sustainable footing and this may result in compulsory redundancies in some areas. This is not a step we would take lightly and we will do everything reasonably possible to avoid redundancies. However, our finances are affected by factors over which we have little control, such as the review of higher education funding (Augar Review), increased pension costs and the national economic impacts of Brexit. It is therefore important that we take stock of these changes before deciding on the next steps. Schools and Functions that have already initiated changes to make savings will continue with these, but any institutional decision on staffing numbers needs a clearer sense of our financial challenge.

Overall, any changes we make as an institution need to fit in with the new University strategy, on which we are current consulting our colleagues, students and other stakeholders.

I will keep you updated on this. In the meantime, I would strongly encourage you to participate in the Strategy Consultation sessions in your Schools and Functions and help shape our University of Reading.


Kind regards.


Mark Fellowes

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning and Resources

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