LECTURERS have blasted planned cuts by a university as management claims it could lose millions if students stay away.

University of Sussex vice-chancellor Adam Tickell said the institute could lose £13 million if just one tenth of its British students defer their studies until after the coronavirus pandemic.

And he warned another £38 million could be lost if half its international students stay away. Hundreds of them have demanded tuition fee cuts in response to the crisis.

But Sussex Universities and Colleges Union president Chris Chatwin said proposals to introduce voluntary severance to cut staffing costs were not a good idea.

“We do not approve of voluntary severance as it will increase the workload on the staff that remain,” he said.

“We made it very clear to the managers that we were willing to engage with them to get the best deal for our members.”

The Argus: Unions are demanding cuts at the University of Sussex start with managementUnions are demanding cuts at the University of Sussex start with management

A union spokesman said any university cuts should start with management.

“The present circumstances do not justify a round of precipitate cost cutting,” he said.

“The vice-chancellor’s recent decision to take a ten per cent pay cut is a small but positive step in this direction.

“We urge the University Executive Group to go much further.”

The union has called for maximum pay ratio, meaning the highest-paid employee at the university should only be paid six times as much as the lowest-paid staff member.

It claims this would cap the maximum salary at £104,000. Mr Tickell’s salary is £300,000 according to the university’s financial report last year.

And the union demanded the contracts of all casual employees should be extended until the coronavirus pandemic is over.

But Mr Tickell said the university was under “immense stress” in an online blog post.

The Argus: University of Sussex management warned it could lose millions of pounds if students stay away from studying next yearUniversity of Sussex management warned it could lose millions of pounds if students stay away from studying next year

“This academic year, we may just about manage to break even,” he said.

“The small surplus we were targeting has largely been eroded by the measures we have taken since mid-March to safeguard our staff and students.

“Waiving rents for students who have moved back home, buying equipment and technology to enable home working and remote teaching and writing off income from our usual summer activities were all right but expensive decisions.

“We have to make critical decisions now to protect the future of the university for the benefit of the whole community.”

A spokesman said plans for voluntary severance are yet to be approved but have been designed in discussions with staff unions.

"We have presented to our governing council a proposal for a voluntary severance scheme, which has been designed in constructive discussions with our campus trade unions," he said.

"This is yet to be approved.

"The University of Sussex, along with most universities in the UK, is looking at a very difficult financial landscape, and a wide range of scenarios are being looked at."

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set u p to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund