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Ensure dignity in redundancy

Hundreds of colleagues have already lost their jobs as the Government curbs investment in public services in order to address the fiscal deficit. Thousands more will go in the near future. While I resist the legitimacy of these job losses, we must nevertheless address reality, not least because many of the individuals affected are members of the Association for College ManagementAssociation of Managers in Education (AMiE).

During this time of tumult in the sector, how many colleges are ensuring that the people who are losing their jobs are able to make a proper leave- taking? I fear that colleges in general have a poor record in this regard, often witnessing brutal endings to long and committed careers while doing little or nothing to confer dignity, value or recognition on those endings.

The need for proper acknowledgement of these changes in individuals' lives should be honoured. Even colleges which express a profound commitment to their students' needs are capable of treating their own staff badly in this respect by ignoring the need for a proper leave-taking.

Such double standards are morally dubious - colleges cannot claim the moral high ground on the basis of their responsive service to students if they do not pay due consideration to the staff who are forced to leave.

Behaving ethically demands consistency. If colleges want to pick and choose the occasions when they behave ethically, then they should stop talking about their "values" and own up to the fact that they behave well when it suits them.

This is not an argument against restructuring and redundancies, as for some colleges there are no alternatives in the present financial climate. It is an argument that basic human decency and fundamental ethical values demand that people are valued and treated with care during what is often a painful and difficult transition for them.

Doubtless there is good practice in the sector in this respect. If you would like to share yours with AMiE, please email me at nadinecartner@acm.uk.com.

Nadine Cartner, Director of policy, Association for College ManagementAssociation of Managers in Education.

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