Chris Havergal reports today on Queen’s University Belfast plans to axe 236 (note the precision in their count) jobs and reduce student numbers by 1,010. James Field reports that the University of Surrey is to cut 100 jobs and scrap its politics department, partly using the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a guide. Jack Grove reports that up to 165 jobs may be lost at London Metropolitan University. The University of Aberdeen is to cut about 150 jobs as part of efforts to save millions of pounds in the coming months (this item from BBC but see also my post over one protagonist).
I first heard about the “zombie fungus” from Robin Maytum when we were working together at Queen Mary. The story captivated my imagination: The fungus infects an ant, eats up most of its interiors, leaving intact a few key neurons and muscles. Once its feast is done, the fungus can still control the ant’s locomotion, which then moves on to a leaf from where the fungus can best spread out its spores.
If you are the ant, you are unlikely to hold Ophiocordyceps unilateralis high in your esteem, even more to befriend it. Robin was the first cell within the infected ant I encountered. Other tissues were quite unprepared for the infection and so our university (the ant) was overtaken by those fungus-like managers. I have not stopped telling that story ever since.
I read yesterday that Warwick’s “Medical School and School of Life Sciences have been warned that the departments are under-performing financially” and that “bosses at the campus, in Gibbet Hill, Coventry, say if they have to cut staff they aim to find volunteers to leave their jobs in return for redundancy payments“. I then saw an earlier report in BBC suggesting that the situation was such at Warwickshire College. Were both institutions issuing job threats to instill uncertainty?
What caught my attention was the terminology used: bosses at the campus. I could think of other terms, more appropriate for those in positions of responsibility in a bank, a prison or a university…