Falmouth University is in the process of transferring the contracts of 130 employees to the higher education charity that is based at Tremough Campus.

Falmouth Exeter Plus will take the support staff from services such as the library, IT, academic Skills and disability support.

The move has been met with severe opposition by current services employees in the form of the FXprotest website.

Falmouth Exeter Plus and the FXU Student Union insist that the transfer will not affect the quality of student services at the two universities.

Speaking to Flex, a member of the FX Protest who wished to remain anonymous said: “It’s not directly accountable to the students in the way a University is. Our concern is that it takes away that accountability.

“It takes the staff away from the Higher Education framework. It takes away that relationship from academic staff and academic support staff.

“Students should be really concerned that the quality of service is going to diminish quickly if this goes ahead. We’ve already had resignations from really well qualified, experienced staff who know what students need,” they added.

FXU’s Vice President of Welfare, Rich Pearson told Flex: “The changes will hopefully be better, things like I.T and Library which benefit both sets of students will be administrated by a central group rather than by one institution which makes more sense with two institutions on campus. That’s essentially what will change.”

In a statement on behalf of the FXU, Falmouth President Scott Pearson said: “We have been assured by both Falmouth University and Falmouth Exeter Plus that there will be no adverse effect on the delivery of services to students.

The recent FXProtest march through Falmouth (via FXProtest)

Falmouth Exeter Plus Chief Executive, Niamh Lamond, has assured staff that there won’t be any changes to their contracts.

Speaking to BBC Radio Cornwall, Ms Lamond said: “All the staff involved would have terms and conditions fully protected and there would be no job losses.”

“The priorities for us in Falmouth Exeter Plus are to ensure that the quality of services is absolutely top class and that we can retain and recruit the best staff,” she added.

Flex’s source disputed the protection of contracts, saying: “It’s very, very easy for the CEO to call a restructure once the transfer has taken place. As soon as she calls an organisational restructure none of the protections apply.”

Rich Pearson said that this was not the case, however.

“Falmouth Exeter Plus is administrated by a board of directors, of which there are six. There’s three from Exeter and three from Falmouth. Niamh Lamond has no say. She is not able to change their minds if they don’t want to. She has no power to vote,” he said.

“She’s there to advise and propose but she reports to the board,” he added.

In an open letter to the FXU former Falmouth President, Jamie Clark, explained his concern on the matter and emphasised the previous elected presidents were opposed to the transfer.

He said: “I find this news to be very unsettling and can say I believe that there is absolute certainty that this will have a severe adverse effect on the quality of support and services available to students in Cornwall.”

In response to Clark’s letter, the FXU statement commented: “FXU’s primary specific concern was over the suggested inability to recruit and retain high quality staff that the changes may bring, thus having a potentially negative effect on the quality of service for students.

“FXU raised this issue as a matter of concern with senior management of Falmouth Exeter Plus and Falmouth University and are satisfied by the responses provided to these enquiries.”

If the transfer goes ahead it will be the first of it’s kind in Higher Education. London Metropolitan University and the University of Warwick both dropped similar plans last year.

Speaking to the Times Higher Education supplement a higher education consultant, Rosemary Stamp, said: “Universities are outsourcing more and more services, and if you outsource your accommodation or how you run your IT, it has a direct impact on the student experience, which is a major differentiator for higher education.”

“What is perhaps surprising is that we’ve found that when universities outsource things such as teaching and learning provision, the effect is to make students feel, ‘gosh that’s great’, and then things don’t match up to that when they get back into the higher education system.”

400 students at Sussex University protested the outsourcing of catering, security and several other services with 200 occupying a lecture theatre.

Falmouth Exeter Plus employs 235 people across the two universities that include the Stannary Bar, the refectory and Tremough Shop.
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