Queen's University Belfast has agreed this week on a controversial plan to cut more than 100 academic and research jobs as part of a cost-cutting exercise.
The university's ruling senate announced the plan on Wednesday as it set itself the challenge of becoming one of the world's top 100 universities over the next five years.
A total of 103 staff will be offered voluntary severance packages. Cuts are being made across all 20 schools in the university, but it will mean the end of German as a honours degree subject.
The lecturers' union, the University and College Union, opposes the cuts and lobbied members of the senate when they gathered for their meeting.
The union said the plan was to get rid of the targeted staff by Christmas and that it was a move which would cause major disruption to teaching at Queen's.
It said: “The whole ethos of the plan is concentration on international research at the expense of teaching and research on local issues. This is not popular with the politicians who are our paymasters.”
The cuts of 103 are being made from an initial potential list of almost 300 and following consultation with unions.
The university Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said the academic plan agreed by the senate was built on an earlier assessment exercise which identified where the university could compete globally.
“To deliver our potential we need to have the right people, doing the right things; that's what this plan is about,” he said.
“All 20 of our academic schools have been involved in putting this plan together, and together we have identified where we need to invest.
“Balancing competing priorities is difficult and we have faced hard choices. But the process has been thorough.”
He said the plan was designed to be cost-neutral, with investment in priority areas being resourced through savings elsewhere.
The professor said money released by the cuts would be re-invested in jobs which were more closely aligned to the university's current academic needs.