UK Subtitlers Association Condemns Roehampton University Translation Cuts

University of Roehampton Cuts Subtitling

As part of a series of education budget cuts across the UK, the University of Roehampton announced a proposed staff reduction, the third since 2020. This latest measure puts about half of all Roehampton academic personnel at risk of losing their jobs.

In May 2022, 226 faculty and other staff were told to choose between applying for voluntary redundancy or competing for remaining positions. The impending cuts directly affect the university’s 20-year-old Audiovisual Translation program — a move that caused the UK’s Subtitlers Association (SUBTLE) to protest on social media (#RoeStopTheCuts) and encourage supporters to join in the fight.

Mincing no words in an open letter, SUBTLE condemned the staff cuts and exposed their contradictory nature given that demand for audiovisual translation and localization skills is actually growing. The letter also links to a general petition urging senior management to reconsider the proposed cuts.

Roehampton called the staff reduction a “strategic realignment” aimed at controlling rising costs and low student enrollment. The university also cited as a reason a new approach that favors vocational skills building and apprenticeship to meet the UK Government Employability Programmes and Work Placements agenda.

The Roehampton Audiovisual Translation program has won accolades, a fact highlighted in SUBTLE’s statement: world-leading classification in the 2016 and 2022 Research Excellence Framework results, etc.

The group also expressed its support for the University and College Union (UCU), which has been fighting for better working conditions for academics in the UK for the past two years. UCU singled out Roehampton on a dedicated web page.

On June 13, 2022, UCU unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Roehampton Vice Chancellor, Jean-Noël Ezingeard, as well as senior management as protests by SUBTLE, students, faculty, and supporters continue to mount.

Should the cuts take effect, several courses will disappear and remaining faculty will likely have increased workloads.