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Leading COVID-19 response scientists at Imperial College London have spoken out against the university’s plan to sack 75 of its ICT staff.
More than 150 ICT support staff at the prestigious West London university have been told their jobs are at risk, and that half of those roles will be axed.
The University and Colleges Union (UCU) said the redundancies have been planned since before the pandemic arrived. Imperial’s scientists took a leading role in advising the Government on how the pandemic would affect the country.
Many of them continue to work from home, which has seen demand for ICT assistance go up.
COVID-19 Response Team member, Dr Samir Bhatt, is currently advising the state of New York as it comes out of lockdown: “For weeks now, all of our COVID-19 response work has had to be done remotely.
“It goes without saying that our work is of significant public health importance, both within the UK and around the world, and it would have been impossible without the Imperial ICT staff and their heroic efforts in the midst of incredibly trying circumstances.”
Another member of the team, Dr Seth Flaxman, senior lecturer in statistical machine learning and senior author of multiple reports into the pandemic, said: “My team has published a major paper in Nature quantifying lives saved by lockdown, for which we relied heavily on specialised computing services supported by Imperial’s ICT staff.”
UCU says Imperial chiefs hope the redundancy process will take eight months and save £2 million a year.