A student-staff meeting regarding the University of Lincoln’s financial stress was called earlier this month.  The University, which is currently in a 30-million-pound deficit, held an online meeting with students on May 1st to answer questions and concerns about the current situation.  

The Student Union (SU) accommodated the meeting, which management praised for its “fantastic student rep system.” The management team started the meeting by saying, “Students’ opinions matter to us.” In this spirit, students posed several questions through a chat system. The SU selected only a handful to pass on to management.  

There were some optimistic statements from management as they sought to justify several of the changes ahead. These changes include cutting open hours for several University buildings, merging schools, and increasing the accommodation costs.   

Management clarified that the rise in accommodation is not directly related to the University’s financial situation. There were assurances that the financial difficulties would soon be over. Professor Abigail Woods said: “When everyone returns in September, we’re starting afresh.  

Source: University of Lincoln.

“It’s building back better so we can come back with a renewed spirit of optimism, and we can try to put all of these last difficult few months behind us. 

“It’s difficult for us to predict what might be coming around the corner. There’s a lot of not knowing, and we can’t give certainty because we don’t have that ourselves.”  

When asked if any teaching would move online to cut costs, Prof Gyles Lingwood said: “We’ve got no plans to push our students away from the campus because of the situation we are in at the moment.” 

Cuts to staff were not ruled out. Each department has a baseline of savings they must reach, and schools are expected to find ways of achieving this, including redundancies. In schools with a higher staff-to-student ratio, redundancies were described as more likely.  

In the meeting, management said that they intend to minimise the impact these cuts could have on students. However, on the University and College Union’s (UCU) website, the UCU Lincoln acting chair Dr Rob Dean said:  

Source: University of Lincoln.

“It is simply impossible to slash so many jobs without severely impacting current students, future students and diminishing the University’s vital role as a cornerstone of regional education.” 

The University is currently suffering a £30m funding shortfall and expects to make 220 staff redundant. According to the University, much of the fault for this situation “has come from outside the University”. However, in a BBC article, the UCU blamed management for the 30-million-pound deficit. 

After being approached for a comment, a University of Lincoln spokesperson said: “Universities across the country are being placed under financial pressure by the ongoing freeze in UK undergraduate tuition fees and recent immigration policy changes which are deterring international students.” 

With this shortfall, they stated that “almost half of UK universities are forecasting deficits this year”. As a result of this, the University opened its voluntary redundancy and severance scheme. 

The current situation contrasts with the University’s 2022-23 financial statement, which said the University remained “financially sustainable for the whole forecast period, with sufficient available cash balances”. 

It also noted extensive financial modelling and scenario planning to ensure that its financial position is not compromised”.  

Figures from the financial statement showed that in 2023, the University’s total income was around £240m, a £25.2m increase from the previous year. 

The meeting ended after around 50 minutes. Prof Woods reiterated that the University “is not on a precipice of falling over a cliff and closing down” and that further concerns and questions can be emailed to management.