Students have protested against the College's proposals

An open letter demanding that  Queens’ “assure staff that there will be no redundancies” has received over 150 signatures.

The open letter comes following an email sent to Queens’ students on 4th August explaining that the College anticipates an aggregate deficit of £6 million for the financial year just ended and next year owing to the economic impact of Covid-19.

The anticipated income loss is due to the expected collapse in revenue from the College’s conference and banqueting businesses which are a major contributor to the College’s finances.

The email went on: “in the light of this, the College must now take some very difficult decisions and reduce its costs”. As part of this, “the College is having to consider a reduction in the number of staff it employs, and so may need to make redundancies”.

In response, the signatories of the open letter - including undergraduates, post-graduates and alumni of the college - “strongly denounce the decision to place the college’s financial pressure on the shoulders of its workers, especially given the large salaries of senior management”.

They continue, “we will not accept this attempt to pit students and staff against each other”, emphasising that “we stand in solidarity with all workers affected by the college’s plans for redundancies”.

The letter proposes that the savings could instead be made through voluntary pay cuts amongst the highest paid College staff, reductions in the College’s “extraneous expenditure” or seeking “further donations from its wealthy backers”.

The petition points out that the proposed redundancies come despite the fact that in the financial year ending in June 2019, income from the College’s endowment totalled over £2 million.

Organisers have also highlighted that Dr Mohamed A. El-Erian will succeed Lord John Eatwell as President of the College on 1st October. Dr El-Erian’s net worth is estimated to be £1.8 billion and in 2015, he donated £19 million to Queens’ and the Faculty of Economics.


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In a statement to Varsity, the letter’s authors said that “Queens’ students stand against its management’s decision to protect their profits at the expense of people’s livelihoods.” They argued that the College’s management “use the rhetoric of the ‘Queens’ community’ while casting aside some of ‘our’ most vulnerable members”. They called on Queens’ “to commit to not making redundancies during a global pandemic”.

In the email outlining the possibility of redundancies, Queens’ also provided details on its decision, announced on 30th June, to charge rents on a quarterly basis from the start of the new academic year for buildings on the Main Site. The Main Site houses the vast majority of undergraduates. 

This change means that students will pay more rent overall, although it also allows them to occupy their rooms for longer, with no need to pay extra to stay over the Christmas and Easter vacations. Queens’ claims that this will mean students pay less per week. 

Accommodation off the Main Site, which is primarily used by postgraduates, is already charged on a quarterly basis.

Varsity has contacted Queens’ for comment.

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