Looks like Media City UK is already having a big impact on Salford’s job market. But rather than the 15000 `employment opportunities’ promised, the first affect of the increasingly controversial site is the loss of 150 jobs at the University of Salford…partly to pay for the University’s `investment’ in its new Media City UK tower.
A memo from Registrar Dr Adrian Graves states that the University’s ambitious plans will require “significant upfront investments…to optimise opportunities arising from Media City (approximately £40million)”. To achieve this “financial headroom” Salford’s Vice Chancellor, Michael Harloe, sent another memo around saying that they are looking to `re-orientate the University’s budget’, including savings of £12.5 million over the next three years and “a proposed reduction in staffing of about 150 over this period”.
The unions response to University bosses stated that they were particularly concerned that the University is choosing to invest in Media City UK which ”appears to be rapidly degenerating into a white elephant” and pointed out that no other organisations apart from the BBC and the University have yet committed to the project…They are also a bit concerned because last time the University had the great idea for a super Arts and Media Centre, back in 2006, it ended up writing off £3.8million in development costs when the project went tits up.
A campaign against the cuts is erupting around the University with activists arguing that savings could be made from the lavish spending by management, in particular Vice Chancellor Michael Harloe, who has `first call’ on two chauffeur driven University cars, plus a house in posh Altrincham paid for by the University, on top of his £239,000 salary. Meanwhile, almost £1million (£955,000) has recently been spent on the `refurbishment’ of the University’s Acton Square HQ.
All this might sit a bit uncomfortably with the Research Councils UK, that has just included the University of Salford as one of its £9.2 million funded Beacons for Public Engagement “to ensure that all members of the community, particularly residents from the poorest and most excluded neighbourhoods, benefit from their work”…Partly targeted for the chop are jobs in the School of Community, Health Sciences and Social Care…the stuff that might actually benefit Salford's community.
Not surprising really that in the University of Salford’s latest official Staff Experience Survey, only 37% are satisfied with the `leadership and direction’ of the University, a mere 25% are satisfied with the `management of change’, and only 44% feel valued by the University…