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University’s financial position – a joint update from VC, UCU and Staff Forum

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Representatives of the UEB, the UCU and the Staff Forum met on 24 May and again on 8 June to review the University’s financial position in the context of our ongoing efforts to address a significant potential short-fall over a three-year period as a direct consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can read more about the context and the range of cost-savings measures in the agreement we reached last year.

On each occasion that we meet we have access to relevant information prepared by colleagues in Finance. The most recent documents are available to view.

When we last updated you in February of this year we were able to confirm that the tiered pay cuts scheduled for this calendar year would not now be necessary, with a cautionary note that we must not become complacent. That remains the case.

The need for the other identified cost-savings measures remains unchanged. The most significant of these measures affecting colleagues directly is the three-year pay freeze, covering the years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23. By way of a reminder, the pay-freeze does not affect normal incremental progression. There was no national pay award agreed for the 20-21 year, so there was no impact on us locally. The proposed pay award for the 21-22 year is 1.5% and as things stand, in accordance with our agreement, this will not be applied at Reading.

However, the reason why we meet regularly is to ensure that the cost-savings measures remain necessary in the light of updated financial information. Student recruitment is of critical importance and remains difficult to accurately predict. We have reason to be cautiously optimistic about recruitment of home students but international student recruitment is much less certain, and the potential for a serious erosion of the University’s finances is something that we must remain mindful of.

With all of this in mind we have further review meetings scheduled provisionally for 23 July and 19 October. At the latter of these two dates we will have a clearer initial view of the student recruitment outcomes and how that might impact on the ongoing need for the agreed cost-savings measures.

As noted above for now we have to assume that the pay-freeze remains necessary, and with that in mind colleagues in HR will be writing directly to all staff prior to the 1 August 2021 to confirm this. Should the financial position improve sufficiently this is a measure that can be easily modified.

We remain hugely grateful to all of you for the work you have done and the sacrifices you have been prepared to make to ensure that we get through the challenges arising from the pandemic successfully.

Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor

Sally Pellow, President RUCU

John Jack and Sian Walsh, Co-Chairs Staff Forum


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