Go back

Goldsmiths staff despondent as redundancy letters arrive

Image: mikecphoto, via Shutterstock

Academics in sociology department particularly impacted by job cuts

A professor in the sociology department at Goldsmiths, University of London, which is facing widespread job losses, says she has lost her faith in academic meritocracy after receiving a redundancy letter.

Kiran Grewal was promoted to professor of human rights in this academic year, but is now one of almost 100 Goldsmiths staff members who received redundancy letters this week. Research Professional News understands that among the 97 who received redundancy letters are 17 of the institution’s sociology academics—or two-thirds of scholars working in that department.

“I made professor this academic year and felt so proud,” Grewal told Research Professional News. “I believed, against all odds, in some sort of meritocracy. Now I am being made redundant because I apparently ‘scored poorly’ based on the very same criteria and information in my promotion application.”

Other academics have been voicing their concern on social media. Emma Jackson, director of the sociology department’s Centre for Urban and Community, said on X, formerly Twitter: “So there you have it, I started the academic year with a promotion and a grant. Ending it with redundancy, along with most of my colleagues in sociology.”

Jackson told Research Professional News that the redundancy process had been “fraught with problems”.

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said UK universities were navigating “unprecedented financial challenges”, and that it was “a painful time for us all as we take steps to make our finances sustainable”.

“We consulted staff and unions over our plans but unfortunately this did not result in viable ways forward which would have avoided or reduced the number of redundancies,” the spokesperson added.

“In election week, we also call on the next government to engage in an open and honest conversation with universities to fix a broken funding system so it works for students, the public and the university sector.”

Last month, the University and College Union announced a “global academic boycott of Goldsmiths, University of London”, over the institution’s plans to cut jobs, urging people not to apply for any advertised jobs at the south London institution, or accept speaking invitations.

At the time, a spokesperson for Goldsmiths said that, after consulting unions and staff, the institution was now “regrettably moving to the next stage of the redundancy process”.

“During this time, we have listened and responded to evidence and viable suggestions, and made changes where appropriate, including significant changes in relation to our processes and decision-making.

“The actions we are taking are in response to the unprecedented challenges that Goldsmiths and other universities are facing from a funding system that is no longer fit for purpose and are part of a wider plan aimed at ensuring that Goldsmiths continues to be a beacon for radical research and innovative teaching, as well as an entry point for students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to university.”