New Schools Restructure
Information about the proposed University restructure, and how we're supporting members through it.
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In October 2023, VC Koen Lamberts announced the University’s intentions to undertake a major restructure of academic departments.
The proposal is that the University would move from a department structure to a “school” structure. This means that many academic departments will be merged into larger academic units, called “Schools”.
The proposed new structure can be found below:
The University has said that the changes are not about making cost savings, but are intended “to provide a more equitable and fair experience for all students – through providing equal support for both students and staff across all schools.”
More information about the University’s rationale can be found below:
Creating a new school structure- vision and aims
The University is seeking council approval by 14th December 2023, with the changes coming into effect for the start of the 2025/26 academic year.
In practice, this is likely to mean:
- Professional services teams in departments being merged are likely to face redundancies, and teams in departments not being merged may still be subject to restructures
- Heads of Department and Departmental Manager roles will cease to exist, and new Heads of School and School Managers will be appointed
- Academic disciplines that have little in common may be structured alongside each other within the new schools
Sheffield UCU are concerned about this, for several reasons:
- We have not been given assurances that there won’t be compulsory redundancies as a result of this, and it’s likely that professional service role in departments will be at risk
- Academic staff may be asked to report to line managers from outside their discipline, where their school includes departments that vary in discipline
- The speed at which the changes are being progressed indicates that the implications have not been properly considered
- There is likely be an increase in workload for Professional Services staff who are in departments being merged, or as a direct result of the administration of merging departments into schools
- There may be unfavourable changes to staff terms and conditions
- There is likely to be a detrimental impact on staff mental health
On October 19th 2023, the campus unions held an open meeting for all staff to learn more about the restructure and to voice their concerns. Over 600 staff joined, representing a significant level of concern about how this is being handled.
Sheffield UCU conducted a survey on the ‘New Schools’ Restructure proposal over a 3 week period, open to all staff.
- 971 individuals took the survey, equivalent to a bit over 10% of the staff at the University of Sheffield.
- Of the respondents, only 7.7% felt confident that the proposed restructure would be positive for the university as a whole
- 81.2% indicated that the timeframe for consultation was too rapid.
- We conducted a qualitative analysis of 410 free text comments which also flagged several worrying themes around consultation, governance, and risks to the functioning of the university.
You can read the full report below:
The joint Sheffield trade unions has written an open letter to University Executive Board (UEB), outlining our position on the resturcture and urging them to withdraw and reconsider the proposals. You can read the full text below:
If you’d like to feed back directly to the University with your questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would also encourage you to collectively document your concerns in your work areas, and how these changes may impact you (individually and collectively). We will be writing separately to our departmental reps network about how work areas can register these lists of concerns with the university.