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FSE Technical Review Cohort 2

26 May 2021

A message from Rachel Brealey, Director of Faculty Operations for the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Faculty of Science and Engineering Technical Services

I wanted to inform you of the next steps which are now being taken with regards to proposed changes within the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s (FSE) Technical and Experimental Services and the proposed closure of the MIB Protein Expression Facility. 

On 19 May 2021, the Board of Governors approved the University entering into formal consultation with the trade unions on proposals for the structural changes to FSE’s Technical and Experimental Services (Cohort 2) and the closure of the MIB Protein Expression Facility.

This formal consultation with the trade unions began today and local briefings with staff in scope and in scope and at risk are taking place. 

Technical Review

The first proposal involves the next phase (cohort 2) of a restructure of FSE Technical and Experimental Services. There are 69 posts “in scope” and 30 posts “in scope and at risk” with a proposed reduction of six posts and the creation of 18 new posts, resulting in a net increase of 12 posts. We expect many of the individuals in roles that will be lost will take up the new posts.

FSE’s Technical and Experimental Services Review aims to create a sector-leading technical and experimental service for the Faculty.  The proposed structure has been developed to be more agile and responsive to the evolving nature of technical services and to address historic issues of duplication and silo working. It will also provide staff with the opportunity to gain new skills whilst providing improved career opportunities. 

MIB Protein Expression Facility

Secondly we are proposing the closure of the MIB Protein Expression Facility (PEF), a research service within the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), resulting in all three posts being “in scope and at risk”.

The research that MIB currently conducts, and is likely to pursue in the future, will predominantly see protein expression carried out within research groups.  The MIB’s current use of the PEF represents only a 25% of overall usage and the facility is currently recovering significantly less than half of its financial outgoings.  As such, the conclusion is that the PEF is not financially viable and is not supporting the major strategic scientific activities of FSE or the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (FBMH).  The case for retaining the facility in the MIB portfolio, funded through the MIB baseline, is therefore untenable. 

A targeted voluntary severance scheme will be offered to those colleagues in scope and at risk and we will make considerable effort to achieve the decrease in posts in this way. Regrettably, if the voluntary severance scheme is not effective in achieving the required target reduction in posts, then the University will seek approval from the Board of Governors to proceed to a compulsory scheme.  

We are committed to ensuring that this process is conducted fairly and transparently in line with our policies and procedures and we will seek to explore opportunities for the avoidance of compulsory redundancy where possible, including redeployment and retraining.  

We recognise that this is an anxious time for those colleagues affected by the proposals and plans are in place to support them through the process. We will continue to have regular conversations with colleagues who are affected by the changes. 

Full details are available on StaffNet

Rachel Brealey

Director of Faculty Operations and Technical Review Project Sponsor

Faculty of Science and Engineering