Reporter 402, 19 May 1997

Senate acts on '£8m' deficit

Measures to tackle projected deficits totaling more than £8m in departmental budgets for 1997/8 were agreed after lengthy debate by Senate. If no action were taken, the University faced the intolerable prospect of accumulated resource centre deficits exceeding £20m by the year 2001.

Senate agreed that allocations to resource centres should be moderated - as an interim measure in 1997/8 for one year only - by a package of fiscal adjustments aimed at containing gross deficits to around £3m.

Adjustments will be funded by drawing upon projected Departmental surpluses and by use of contingency monies from the Academic Resource Centre pool. Around £4m of the University's Departmental Investment Restructuring Fund will be used to write off a proportion of historic deficits. From 1998/9, Departments must plan to 'balance the books' without recourse to moderation.

A number of groups will be set up by Academic Development Committee (ADC) to undertake a 'radical review' of departments with the largest under- and over-spends. They will provide 'firm and imaginative' proposals to restore the balance between income and expenditure while preserving academic diversity and incentives needed to address teaching and research priorities.

ADC has emphasised that deficits do not necessarily indicate poor management and - conversely - surpluses do not mean departments are, necessarily, better managed.

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