Vice-Chancellor Update: Pay Freeze Staff Poll

I know there has been a lot to take in recently and staff have been under a lot of pressure, both adapting to new ways of working because of Covid-19 and as we make changes within our professional services as part of Organising for Success. Thank you all for your continued hard work for the University – ­I want to assure you that this is hugely appreciated. I am inspired, humbled and proud of the way staff and students have responded.

I am writing to you separately from my usual weekly update this week because I wanted to reiterate the severe challenges we face as a result of the financial impact of Covid-19. We have experienced millions of pounds in one-off losses to income already. We now face huge uncertainty about international student recruitment, along with uncertainty about UK and EU student choices this coming autumn, combined with reductions in income from our other activities such as accommodation and catering. Our financial situation is therefore extremely challenging and we are taking every step available to us to reduce expenditure and commitments as we move into the next academic year, thinking hard about what we can do to protect jobs.

It is in this context that we have proposed a one-year pay freeze for all staff, on top of the reduction in salary a number of senior staff have agreed to take. I know this is a huge ask for every one of you. I know all of you are working incredibly hard at the moment and often in difficult circumstances. However, put bluntly we will simply run out of money if we don’t take drastic steps by making savings – like this. We are already planning to fully utilise our remaining cash reserves but, after the income losses already seen, these are limited and will not stretch far enough; these savings are therefore essential and if we all cannot get behind this proposal, we will have to look to compulsory redundancies, which is something none of us wants to see.

We would not be asking this if our situation wasn’t serious. However, Covid-19 has had a huge impact and these truly are unprecedented times. As I’m sure you will have seen, across the sector universities are facing incredibly difficult challenges and choices as they try to weather this storm and we are not immune from this. I therefore urge you all to complete our staff poll on the pay freeze proposal, which closes at 17.00 tomorrow.

Thank you again for everything you are all doing at the moment, and I hope everybody is able to get a much-needed break with our additional University Covid-19 rest days on Thursday and Friday this week.

Yours sincerely,


Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President