Sunderland University chiefs criticised for attending awards night in same week 130 possible job losses are announced

University of Sunderland's St Peter's Campus

University of Sunderland's St Peter's Campus

Management figures at Sunderland University have been criticised by workers for attending an awards night in the same week as the institution announced plans to make multimillion-pound cuts.

The Echo reported this week that about 130 jobs could go from the academic institution, which has several sites on Wearside and London.

(from left) Sunderland University staff Andrea Walters, Louise Phillipson and Steve Knight at The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2016.

(from left) Sunderland University staff Andrea Walters, Louise Phillipson and Steve Knight at The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2016.

In an email to workers chief operating officer Steve Knight said a review will now be carried out to see how additional savings of £8million needed for the 2016/17 financial year can be made.

University Vice-Chancellor Shirley Atkinson said there was a need to “streamline” the organisation’s operation.

An anonymous worker said that as well as the uneasiness following the jobs announcement, staff have been further dismayed after the university’s HR department tweeted a photo of staff at The Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards at the Grovesnor Hotel in London on Thursday night.

The team had been nominated in the Outstanding Human Resources Team category, but lost out to the University of Sheffield for the gong.

The stress and anxiety around the place is terrible at the minute.

University worker

The picture featured chief operating officer Mr Knight, head of health and safety and environment Louise Phillipson and director of human resources Andrea Walters.

The tweet read: “Wishing our @sunderlanduni HR team good luck at the #thelmas tonight. We have everything crossed.”

The angry worker said: “They’re posing proud as punch when we have no say or no understanding of what is going on with our jobs.

“If the management came out of their ivory towers and bothered to speak to us they would know how hard people work.

“The stress and anxiety around the place is terrible at the minute.”

A spokeswoman for the university said of the awards night: “Every year the university is shortlisted at national awards for the excellent work of our staff across a range of areas.

“We have always ensured that staff represent the university at these events in order to accept any awards that we receive.”

According to the email to staff about the possible budget cuts, a number of staff briefings will now be held across university campus sites in July where the changes will be explained.