University bosses have admitted they do not know how much their controversial restructuring programme will cost. Senior university managers made the admission when quizzed by staff at an open meeting last week. They said the cost of the restructuring would not be known until later this year.

The uncertainty will fuel concern over the university’s finances. Sussex has suffered several recent blows to its income. The university is thought to stand to lose £1m a year because of government cuts to funding for second degrees, and £3m has just been wiped off the university’s cash reserves due to the collapse of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki. Critics of the restructuring have also warned it will make the university overly reliant on what they say are unrealistic expectations for international student numbers.

‘Critics say the plans are incompatible with academic freedom’

Philip Harvey, the university’s Registrar, said one of the costs of the restructuring would be offices for the new heads of departments, especially for those coming from outside the university.

But Deputy Vice Chancellor Paul Layzell denied the new heads would be a drain on resources, saying they would “earn their keep” by winning research grants.

The restructuring plans sparked mass protests by students and staff last year. Under the plans, the university will be reorganised to be more market-oriented. University managers say the plans will safeguard the university’s future, but critics say they are incompatible with academic freedom.

Managers have set out a rapid timetable for the restructuring, which will be largely complete by next academic year. Smaller departments will be merged and the administrative support arrangements for the university will be overhauled. Some staff have said they fear the changes will be extremely disruptive.
Two of the new heads of departments have been named. Film and Media, which will incorporate Music, will continue to be led by its current head, Prof Sue Thornham. History and Philosophy, which will incorporate
Art History and American Studies, will be led by Prof Matthew Cragoe, who joins Sussex from the University of Hertfordshire. They will begin working in their new roles at the start of 2009.

‘How will the financial crisis affect us?’ Talk for students and staff, 6pm Tuesday 4 Nov, in Arts A2 Lecture Theatre.

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