GUCU Initial Response to KPMG’s Independent Business Report (IBR)

As part of the union recognition agreement and ACAS guidelines on information sharing for the purposes of collective bargaining, the KPMG Independent Business Review (IBR) has been shared with Goldsmiths UCU. The document is confidential and cannot be shared more broadly, but officers have given the report careful attention over the weekend and ​in tandem with other publicly-available financial documents, we can report the following headlines:

  • KPMG sees Goldsmiths as a successful institution that has increased its ‘market share’ over the last 5 years despite the lifting of caps on the Russell Group. They see opportunities for growth and revenue generation;
  • The report concurs with prior GUCU research that the deficit from last year (c.£8 million) is largely a result of excessive capital expenditure (Estates and IT) 2015-18, and an increase in staff costs – largely accounted for by the USS pension contribution increases (increases that Wardens & Vice Chancellors didn’t join UCU and First Actuarial in challenging). Home/EU recruitment has slipped​ marginally, but is largely compensated for by strong overseas & postgraduate recruitment; 
  • The cancellation or suspension of the Enterprise Hub; and the cancellation of non-critical capital expenditure (estates and IT), would save the College somewhere in the region of £10 million; if the College considered selling some of the estate (eg the playing field in Bexley and some of the terraced houses) at least another £7 million could be raised;
  • The above savings alongside staff cost savings already made (voluntary severance and vacancy savings and redundancies of casualised staff) comes to close to £20 million. This would cover the current deficit of £8 million and leave £12 million for any funding gap that emerges post-Covid. The above self-help measures should be taken first before any loan is sought;
  • The Independent Business Review (IBR) was for some reason commissioned at a moment of great uncertainty, before the reforecast from this year was done, and before any actual loans have been sought. KPMG were supplied with figures from the by now very out-of-date projections in the ‘London Economic Scenario 2’ from April, so they have mostly worked from a ‘base case scenario’ (no change) as recruitment has largely held up. 

GUCU will be hearing members’ views on the IBR in departmental meetings this week, and will in the interim call for SMT to: 

  • Follow KPMG advice to address the deficit through suspending the Enterprise Hub and other capital expenditure measures in the short term
  • Reassure staff that there will be no further redundancies
  • Postpone any portfolio and service review until a time when we are not in a crisis, and not in the middle of a pandemic, so as to enable careful decision-making
  • Open up the books immediately – share the July 2020 end of year report and the now overdue October reforecast 
  • Focus their time and resources now on keeping students and staff safe from Covid-19 on campus and in New Cross, and work to enhance the quality of online teaching.

These calls are urgent as the College Council meets to review and approve the IBR tomorrow – Weds 14th October and again in November; and Academic Board meets in 5 days on October 19th to look at the ‘portfolio review’. 

Please go to your departmental meetings and get in touch with your Head of Department and members of the Academic Board and Council to make sure they are aware of the IBR and the union’s initial recommendations!