I’ve just received an e-mail on one of the mailing lists I am subscribed to about the massive staff cut planned at the University of Manchester. About 171 positions are set for redundancy, out of which 40 tenured academics in the business school. Apparently, the cuts are planned to support some new “strategic” investments in real estate. Manchester is not the only university engaged in aggressive expansion. More and more British universities are acting as corporations that invest more in assets than in their own staff.
What is unique here is that in a period of expansion of business schools around the world determined by an increase in the students enrolled in these programmes, Manchester is perhaps the only university that is downsizing its business school. Perhaps, the growth in the number of students flattered.
There is a lesson to be learnt from all this: even if you are tenured in a department that is pretty much one of the strongest in your country, you might still face a lot of uncertainty. Now this will have a negative effect on academic freedom.