Data obtained from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows that Durham University employs fewer staff than in 2015, despite a significant increase in student numbers.
The number of staff employed by Durham has decreased from 9,057 in 2014-15 to 7,657 in 2018-19, a 15.5% decrease. Over the same period, student numbers have increased from 16,410 to 18,021, an increase of roughly 10%.
This information includes both academic and non-academic members of staff.
According to The Good University Guide 2020, Durham has 15 students for every member of academic staff. Only four other universities in the guide’s top 30 – Bath, Exeter, Surrey and Aberdeen – have a higher ratio.
In a statement to Palatinate, a University spokesperson said: “The University Strategy includes plans to increase academic staff numbers by 330 between 2017 and 2027.”
The FOI request also shows that over half of those employed by Durham are on fixed-term or ‘Atypical’ contracts, while permanent employment contracts have decreased by over 300 over the last five years.
Atypical contracts are generally defined as employment contracts that do not conform to a standard, open-ended and full-time contract, and can encompass part-time, fixed term, temporary, casual and seasonal.
In a statement to Palatinate, Durham Casuals, a group of academics lobbying against non-permanent contracts, said: “A very high proportion of Durham University staff are precariously employed, whilst senior management salaries remain extremely high. The Vice-Chancellor’s salary, for example, is 20.6 times higher than the lowest paid, casual member of staff.”
The University had previously pledged to end its use of casual contracts. In February, a joint statement issued by the University and the University and Colleges Union (UCU), which represents staff, said: “The University will review our current casual staff and, where appropriate, will transfer these staff onto employment contracts. It is anticipated that this will realise a significant reduction in colleagues engaged on casual contracts.”
The full statement can be read here.
Image by Maddie Flisher