By Charles Fedor
- Professor Martha Ludwig: Head of the School of Molecular Sciences
- Professor Tim Colmer: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
- Professor Imelda Whelehan: Dean of the Graduate Research School
- Christina Lee: Associate Director of Human Resources and Business Partnering
- Nicole Mcewen: Education Action Network Coordinator. The representative of the Student Guild on this matter.
*Students have been purposefully de-identified to protect from any potential reprisals or fallout from their questions during the meeting. The only exception is Nicole Mcewen as Education Action Network Coordinator. As the representative of the Guild at this meeting Pelican believes that there is a public interest for her to be named for the purposes of accountability.
Meeting Opens at Bayliss Building at 4:15pm on October 12th. The meeting was announced the previous day. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity purposes.
Professor Ludwig: We might get started, If I could ask if you’re not a current HDR, a student in SMS. If you could because we’re so crowded could you please make room for HDR students. I recognise most of you, and I know that it’s at least one that’s not an HDR student, current HDR student in SMS.
Professor Ludwig: Thank you for coming today, and thank you Tim, Professor Tim Colmer and also for and just completely forgot what I was going to say
Professor Colmer: Christina
Professor Ludwig: Christina Lee from Human Resources. So as you’re aware UWA is currently working through a structural reform process. And as part of the process, a proposal for change was presented to the school of molecular sciences.
Student 1: It was not presented to the students! It wasn’t, we don’t have it!
Professor Ludwig: We met on the 19th of August and we talked about…
Student 1: The proposal was not officially emailed to us!
Professor Colmer: I think I’m going to actually close. Calm down please
Professor Ludwig: So we met about the proposal for change on the afternoon of the 19th of August… And from that date there was a consultation period and numerous pieces of feedback were received and reviewed.. and considered. A decision has been reached that was informed by the feedback that was given and that decision has now gone through Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor [David Sadler], the change management board of the university and to the Vice-Chancellor who’s made a decision on the restructure in the school of Molecular Sciences.
Professor Ludwig: So this meeting is to update you on the changes in the school that have resulted from this process. So what has happened for the proposal for change. As said on August 19th, that part of the change proposal was to look at refocusing the research activities in the school and we have proposed that there are four flagship areas. Those flagship areas have now been refined and the titles of those flagship areas basically illustrate the research that crosses the school and hopefully more of that is going to happen. So the flagship areas include:
- Nano-Technology and Chemical Biology
- Synthetic Cells (Biological and Chemical)
- Material Science for Chemistry and Molecular Life Science
- Systems Biology and Systems Chemistry
Student 2: What were the others again? The previous ones?
Professor Ludwig: I’m sorry I don’t have the old ones because they’re gone
Student 2: Ok I am just wondering how exactly they’ve changed because it sounds like you added chemistry or chemical to the end.
Professor Ludwig: Well this was part of the feedback. People wanted to know how chemistry and biology…
Student 1: Also can you kindly give a definition of systems chemistry?
Professor Ludwig: Yep.
Student 1: What’s the definition?
Professor Ludwig: An example is cells that have molecules that do not exist in nature.
Student 1: That’s not systems chemistry. Systems chemistry is computational chemistry which you have removed.
Professor Ludwig: Thank you. So based on the feedback during the consultation period for the teaching side of the school. A single chemistry major will be reinstated. And the sustainability of the chemistry extended major will be reviewed as far as workforce capacity, what kind of units will be in it and so on. Our teaching research nexus will be aligned to the research areas that I’ve just listed and we are going to ensure that the students at the undergraduate level are taught the core concepts of analytical, physical and synthetic chemistry that will act as a foundation to then have a contemporary chemistries at the higher levels. Now that’s in the theory side but also in the practical sides of things, our teaching is going to have to be more efficient okay? We will in this way realign both the teaching and the research activities and programs in school. So, how is this going to affect current HDR students in SMS, as you know from the messages that the Vice-Chancellor has sent out. The university has provided a guarantee that higher degree by research students will be able to continue their studies regardless of the changes in the university operations.
Student 2: Excuse me, is there any chance to extend this guarantee such that the courses will continue undisrupted because be able to continue your studies is not the same as not having any major disruptions? What’s done in this way to ensure that we can continue cruising through our PHDs without feeling like the whole world is collapsing on us and this building.
Professor Ludwig: So are you talking at a personal level?
Student 2: I’m talking about everyone else here, for my friends and myself included. I want to make sure for myself and for my friends that not only that we can continue our studies but the actual student experience that you refer to so much in the Vice-Chancellor emails does not significantly worsen and that there is a method for which we know what’s happening? We know that our studies will continue, we’ll be able to continue on our projects and there will not be disruptions to our studies including but not limited to applying for extensions.
Professor Ludwig: That is part of the Vice-Chancellors guarantee.
Student 2: That’s not what the guarantee says. It just says continue our studies. It does not say anything about impacting our studies or disrupting our studies. It’s just a continuation.
Student 3: What he is saying is the guarantee that like people are not going to get an extension on their university post-graduate award. Like if you have a major disruption you can expect that. That’s the bare minimum right? We haven’t even been promised that.
Student 4: Also even like the students that are getting the grants from their professors I receive like another document that was like frequently asked questions. It was like we cannot guarantee that you can continue occasionally because it is coming from a third party. These funds are coming from a third party, if you cannot get it, we need to just leave. This is not the guarantee for students.
Professor Ludwig: So this sounds like it is definitely a case-by-case basis for this one.
Professor Whelehan: Sorry I came in a bit late
Professor Ludwig: So the University has guaranteed that students that they can finish their course. Students are saying there’s no guarantee about extensions that might come up. But clearly those kinds of extensions are going to have to be on a case-by-case basis as students…
Professor Whelehan: I think you are question was about funds from other sources?
Student 4: Some of the students are receiving money from their professors. The last time we talked you said that you guarantee to keep you as a PHD candidate. That is not optimal again because we lose our supervisor but we also receive another document that is coming from the third party funding source. We need to talk to the 3rd party to keep the funds, but if it wasn’t successful sorry you cannot continue.
Professor Whelehan: We would want to talk to the students in those situations. So again I’d have to look at the case but I think we would want to support that person as much as we can. I would have to know the details that’s why I’m not making a general statement.
Student 4: But there is a general statement
Student 5: I think there’s a fundamental difference between ‘we will continue your enrolment’ and ‘we will support you’. There is a difference between ‘we will allow you to stay in this course’ and ‘we will actually support you through your studies’. The guarantee from the Vice-Chancellor has not met that standard yet, and there is a lacking in the rhetoric that university has put forward around “What does it mean to be supported through your studies?”. What is the bare minimum? What checks the box and what actually supports you through your studies. For students that are admittedly in more complex situations that have external funding sources, that has not been guaranteed at all. What I think a lot of the students in this room are looking for is, is someone going to step up and actually put their name and their reputation on the line and say “we are going to support students”. Or we’re going to say that we will make some vague statement that students are going to be endorsed or students are going to be guaranteed their enrolment where when it comes down to the brass tax the fallacies are abundantly apparent.
Professor Whelehan: I think we just need to break down…
Student 5: It can’t be a case by case because there are currently to students who are currently enrolled, where you’re saying that there is on a case-by-case basis, the chance that they won’t be support and that is scary as shit.
Professor Whelehan: No I don’t think I’m trying to say that, but I’m saying there is some students here…
Student 5: So don’t use the rhetoric that incites…
Professor Whelehan: Can I finish what I’m saying. I’m not using any rhetoric. I’m picking up what you said and I’m just trying to just break it down a bit. Then you can shoot me down if I’m overgeneralising. In this room, there are people who are supported just by a fee offset. The domestic students, they might be working. There are students who are supported by RTP [Research Training Program]. There are students who might be on government sponsorship and so on. It’s quite difficult to say they all fit in at the minute. If I wanted to underscore is the continuity of supervision and I’m not pretending that that’s easy but that’s the threshold.
Student 2: So what’s being done in order to achieve that and guarantee this? We’re being told that the guarantees will be able to continue, we’ve yet to see what steps are actually being taken. What is happening to us?
Professor Whelehan: I don’t know who is going to lose their supervisor. The minute, I know we will take action immediately and that will be our priority. That’s where it does become quite individual because at the moment I can understand that everyone feels stressed and it’s disruptive for everyone. I do understand that, but taking no view is actually effective. It’s difficult to then take the next steps.
Student 2: So there is no contingency plans. Even though we know that we’re going to be losing six academics.
Professor Whelehan: The contingency plan, the minute we know what that looks like, we will be seeking.
Student 5: Can you guarantee that a student that is externally funded (whose supervisor should they lose their job and remove the funding for their stipend) be supported through their candidature.
Professor Whelehan: When you say its’ externally funded?
Student 5: If a students stipend, their scholarship is being paid by an external funding source. If their supervisor was to lose their job and pull their funding and move to an external university from UWA, will that student maintain their stipend, fortnight to fortnight? Are they going to have the income that pays their rent, that pays their food, being pulled out from under them? Can you guarantee that will not happen? That is a basic question
(Professor Whelehan, Professor Ludwig, Professor Colmer and Christina Lee exchange glances)
Student 5: That is a basic question? Yes or no?
Professor Whelehan: That’s above my pay grade, which is why I’m thinking about it ok? I would like to say that no one’s going to be not paying their rent within a week. I’m sure in the short term, I’m looking at my boss.
Student 2: So you’re saying that you can’t guarantee it?
Student 5: What it comes down to is there are students who don’t have an RTP, they have no guarantees from the Australian government who are sitting here and thinking. If my supervisor loses their job, I have no income sources and I fall below the poverty line. I have life expenses that I cannot meet and there is a serious social question around whether or not, we’re going to put these people into poverty because we’re restructuring the school. That is abhorrent in my mind. I don’t think it is an inconceiveable idea that the university can say that we can guarantee maybe $120,000 to be put aside so that these people don’t end up on the street. It’s not an obscene concept in my mind and I think there’s a basic level of humanity that needs to be met in ensuring that HDR students don’t get left behind.
Professor Whelehan: I agree with you and if I have any sections of the numbers involved with it and who was going to be at risk of poverty. I would be taking…
Student 5: But the numbers can’t be that high when we’re talking about a structural deficit supposedly 40 million and we’re talking about chunk change in the hundreds of thousands to ensure that students can meet their financial obligations in what they were when they applied for a scholarship and were accepted for it. These are current students who may have two, one or even zero years left with their higher education. Is it that hard to say that we will set aside and grandfather x amount of dollars to ensure these students don’t end up having to look for work or happen to go and apply for Centrelink and go through the rigmarole of applying for job seeker and putting in five applications for jobs just to ensure they get by. Like that in the best case scenario is someone that’s in their 20s that has no children. They don’t have a wife, don’t have a husband or anything else. They are just trying to get by. It’s not a high bar to meet.
Professor Whelehan: I think most of the students affected would be supported by other UTP, UPA or RTP scholarships.
Student: Can you guarantee that?
Professor Whelehan: No because I need to look at all of your funding.
Student 5: There is a fundamental failing in this process
Student 2: If you are saying that the students cannot be guaranteed to continue their studies, and you just said there is no guarantee. Then you can’t actually outright say yes?
Professor Whelehan: I know what I can do potentially fund scholarships because I have some leeway so I would immediately say I will intend to cushion what blow it is, I can do that. I don’t know the conditions of every external scholarship so it would be wrong of me to try and save them. But I’m saying that, I think the majority of you affected through central university funding I feel pretty secure that I can help you. I will need to know what the external funding that we’re talking about is.
Student 7: It looks like a change in your previous answer to the question. It is not a case by case basis. Can you then make any suggestions that those people are going to be offered for instance extensions on their stipends, fee offsets. In the same way that there was an expected disruption during Covid right? Why is that system opaque to us still if it exists?
Professor Whelehan: I don’t think the system is opaque. But this is a new situation for me for me to deal with. So we dealt with Covid and we did it fast. We would certainly issue guidelines that make it utterly clear what you would need to do. Maybe there’s a few things you would have to do, you know be in good standing or whatever. But I think Tim is nodding and he is holding some of the purse strings, but not all of them. We would do that with UPA or RTP we have flexibility.
Student 7: We’re concerned, we’ve been told we will be supported but that has not been substantiated by saying we will offer people who are losing their scholarship or their supervisor a six month extension. We haven’t been given that meaningful guarantee or anything. So we only have these abstract words that exist in this room. We don’t have any actual promises, the unwillingness of the university to offer that. We have reason to feel like we are being deceived.
Professor Whelehan: I don’t think it is an unwillingness but I don’t want to set myself up for something I can’t deliver. I want to deliver.
Student 1: It is not just you personally responsible, why aren’t the University doing this?
Professor Whelehan: The thing is every PHD student or MPhil student is like their own program, their own course. It’s discrete to them. I’m sorry, that’s why GRS are always sort of grinding through multiple things and seem to be slow because they’re dealing with 2100 individuals. I would say that the majority of you covered by university funding, we will meet our obligations. We have to understand what that looks like? We have to set that up. The external stuff I am way of generalising. IN the case of government sponsored students we will need to talk to the sponsors and explain what’s happening. We can be pretty agile, pretty fast. There are different groups, we will need to talk to you individually. If you lose a supervisor it may be 10% who actually isn’t doing the majority of support for you. You might have a lesser effect then if you lose your principal coordinator
Student 1: I know it will be my principal coordinator and supervisor?
Student 5: A few things to pull out. One the department of education and training already make the report on different funding situations. We also know the delineation between them. So where there is minutiae between what their specific contracts in in my mind, irrelevant. What we’re looking for if there’s a guarantee that the university can come to the table on whether or not these students will be supported. I am not speaking from any personal benefit. I’m not one of those students, but there are probably people in this room that are shit scared that their project is about to be pulled out from under them and they will not have any support whatsoever. This is purely a funding question, setting aside the entire conversation around if they will be supported around questions they might have around their project. Whether they are going to be supported in terms of networking with people in their field. There is a whole level around the idea and connections you get from your PHD that is an entirely separate issue. Are these students going to be able to meet their fundamental funding obligations where it be cost for funding their project or living expenses. Judging this by a case by case basis is not good enough. I understand there will be different responses, but if you are talking about losing academics and taking their funding away, there needs to be blanket guarantee from the university that the funding will remain the same for students. I don’t think it is good enough that the university, GRS, or school that ‘we will judge on a case by case basis’. It should be meeting the funding obligation that the previous funding body had met. Anything short of that is not acceptable.
Professor Whelehan: This is a lot to do with funding but it’s not just to do with funding the other things you mention like the issue of budget. They might have extra from their supervisors and all the rest of it. I can only look at it case by case. I think with externally funded scholarships they have their own conditions if you don’t finish in 3 years you are out. In that case we need to put you first and have a word with your sponsor and see what we can do to fix it. It may be they say we don’t want to support your project anymore and we’re taking our data back. There is lots of things that happen that need specific attention. I know its’ not a pleasant pill to swallow, but for me the best I can do is case by case. The place that we start with is fairness to the students and concern for the students. That what GRS is there for, we are a student centred office.
Nicole Mcewen: You admit then that the guarantee emailed out to the students by the Vice-Chancellor is actually something that cannot be met?
Professor Colmer: Our intention is to meet that guarantee. We want to meet that guarantee
Student 1: That’s not a guarantee
Nicole Mcewen: I want to make a guarantee is not a guarantee.
Professor Colmer: We will undertake, we will meet the guarantee.
Nicole Mcewen: So you will meet the guarantee of continuity which means all of those students will be guaranteed funding. But now you’re saying ‘no that actually happen and it all case by case’. If you sacked their supervisor and money is taken away by the actions of the university (that’s not the fault of the student) will the university will then provide what has been taken away? If you can’t guarantee that, that is difference between what you are saying and what the Vice-Chancellor is guaranteeing in the email.
Professor Whelehan: No I think continuity means maintaining what you have now. What I think you’re all asking about is what extra will be.
Students: No no no, that is not what we are asking!
Professor Whelehan: What I think you have is continuity. You’ve got it from the VC and we will adhere to it.
Student 5: It terms of extra. When someone sets aside funding for a scholarship they should be setting aside three and a half years that’s the standard conditions for the GRS am I correct?
Professor Colmer: Yes
Student 5: So we’re not asking for extra. We’re asking that the existing arrangement be guaranteed.
Professor Whelehan: But it is.
Student 5: But if external funding body pulls that funding, is the university going to meet that shortfall?
Student 2: We are not talking about students fully supported by RTP or anything university managed. We’re talking about students not supported by any university scholarships but are able to work here because of their supervisor arranging for funding coming in elsewhere. Is there a guarantee that these students will be able to receive funding from the university?
Student 9: That’s what the question is. If funding is gone because the supervisor is gone who pays for the stipend? Does the GRS having the funding? That is the question, and I don’t think it has been answered.
Student 5: It is in the best interest of the university to make sure students retain their funding and also maintain their completion rate to maximise their RTP grant.
Professor Whelehan: The reason why I can’t answer that question is I don’t have those funds. I will have to leave this room to find out.
Student 5: So now what we’re asking is in the intervening period between when the proposal was put forward to 4-6 weeks ago has there been any work around guaranteeing the funding for students? Apparently there hasn’t.
Student 2: Is there a team of people working on this? Is there a budget set aside? Have there been steps to prepare for the worst case scenario for which some of these students might be going through in a few weeks time?
Professor Whelehan: We do have a fund from the government that the University subsidises and we pay out your stipends from this. We can reasonably be flexible with this fund, often now for Covid extensions. If the case is made that an extension is required is doing just that. With the other sources of funding. I’d like to say if it a 3 month gap we should be able to do something about it. But I can’t say that here now, I do not have the authority!
Student 2: So why didn’t someone with the authority come down here? Who does have the authority?
Professor Colmer: The external contracts are with the university it is unclear if those would cease.
Student 2: We are talking worst case scenario and assume one person in this room this would be a reality. Lose their supervisor, external funding goes bye bye. Just one student you need to support. What is the plan?
Student 5: I think ignoring the importance the academic plays in having that relationship with the external body is fundamentally flawed. If the academics are forced to leave external funders will be irreversibly irritated by that.
Professor Colmer: That situation is not uncommon as academics move universities all the time. It is the contract with the university that a discussion between the university, the academic and the external funding body happens about what’s the optimal solution. It doesn’t mean there are lots of examples of it just being terminated. Some of these are continued, we have students who come here with academics who are enrolled at other universities that we house in our space. That’s why it’s not simple. If that’s the situation, the Vice-Chancellor has guaranteed students can continue their studies. You’ve got the commitment from the GRS to work through that on a case by case basis. I just don’t understand your line of questioning.
Student 5: I would be highly concerned if I was an external funding body if the school that I was engaging with was cutting 40% of its chemistry staff. That I would still find someone who met the requirements I have from the project I was proposing. This is being overlooked vastly.
Student 2: You 100% need to consider the worst case scenario, if this guarantee was for all students then you need to be ready to support a student that ends up in this nightmare scenario. There is just one sentence from the Vice-Chancellor that you can continue your studies. You need to expand that with something substantial otherwise it is not a guarantee.
Student 3: For people that don’t know, how many positions are going?
Student 3: We aren’t allowed to ask that? I want to hear that answer?
Student 2: They don’t want to take responsibility!
Professor Ludwig: Excuse me. The reason why I looked was I had to make sure that all affected staff know the information. Some staff were not able to attend the town hall [today]
Nicole Mcewen: So does that mean it has changed from the original proposal?
Professor Ludwig: It has not changed.
Nicole Mcewen: So why can’t you say the number?
Professor Ludwig: The decision is a separate process to the proposal for change.
Student 2: Who made that decision?
Professor Ludwig: The decision was made from the feedback we received, the SDVC and I collected that feedback, wrote the decision, then it went to the change management board of the university for consideration and endorsement, and then to the Vice-Chancellor who made the final decision.
Nicole Mcewen: Why hasn’t it gone through the Academic Board and the Senate?
Professor Ludwig: The Academic Board was informed
Nicole Mcewen: Did they have the chance to provide feedback? Were they given the document?
Professor Ludwig: I’m not sure
Nicole Mcewen: The Academic Board is a key decision maker of this University. The loss of staff and chemistry falls under significant academic impact for students.
Professor Ludwig: All the feedback?
Student 2: Can you show us that feedback?
Professor Ludwig: Not individual items?
Student 2: Can you show us how you responded to that feedback? Show that it was acted upon and also was there any feedback that supported this plan in part or in full?
Professor Ludwig: Yes
Nicole: Is any of it from students or staff?
Professor Colmer: I don’t think you’re a member of this school so I’m not sure…
Nicole Mcewen: I am the Guild representative and was invited here.
Professor Ludwig: A decision was made
Nicole Mcewen: What do you think about 89% of students voted to reject this restructure, that thousands of students who said no. How do you respond to that?
Professor Colmer: It was my understanding that the survey didn’t have enough respondents and didn’t meet the threshold?
Nicole Mcewen: That’s not true. We have 1972+ students rejecting the cuts. There is no threshold, there used to a requirement of 10% of the student body must vote for it to be valid. But we still got roughly 10% of the student body out anyway. There was more people voting in the referendum than votes for President. I don’t know how you can keep going forward with this given students democratically voted to reject this. You claim to care about the student experiences slapped on for all of the marketing of this institution. What is your response?
Professor Ludwig: The message from the Vice-Chancellor is there is a structure reform process that needs to be done and that has come from the Senate as well. I’m just saying that the plan for the university is coming from the Vice-Chancellor.
Student 1: So you are saying you don’t care about student opinion?
Professor Ludwig: Did I say that?
Student 1: You implied it?
Professor Colmer: The purpose of this meeting is to inform the HDR students of the outcome and the support that is allowable.
Nicole Mcewen: We could have a show of hands to see who supports the cuts? Does anyone support the cuts?
No student raises their hand
Student 2: Why did you target computational chemistry?
Professor Ludwig: There were multiple dimensions that were considered.
Student 2: It’s a specific area
Professor Ludwig: It is set from the VC’s pillars, that include financial sustainability, student experience and student enrolment growth which also means student demand. Those were the factors that were taken into account.
Student 2: There was a consultation process for a proposal we have not officially seen. The consultation has closed, feedback was collected and we’re not being presented still with the initial proposal, we’re not being presented with anything that came up in feedback. I’m going to assume we won’t see the final proposal either. How therefore are we included in this process? Is anything that is coming out of this meeting being relayed to the Senate by anyone or the VC?
Professor Ludwig: You are included in the process in the sense we talked on August 19th about the impact on you. That’s what it’s about and what this meeting is about.
Nicole Mcewen: But students rejected this decision and there is a real lack of care about the educational experience.
Student 1: It is independent of student opinion. Say that please!
Student 10: How can you say that you told us what the proposals are if you won’t tell us how many academics are being cut directly? You didn’t tell us in the first consultation period and you won’t say it now. Those sorts of decisions impact us? Secondly, when will we actually find out where our supervisor has lost their job?
Professor Ludwig: You will need to talk to your supervisor ok?
Students: So they have to tell us that they have been fired? Is that an answer?
Student 5: I think it’s pretty telling you can look around this room and see a lot of people looking at their shoes, their desks it’s because no one has been provided with any actual information today. I think it’s pretty telling that a lot of people in this room know that the bulk of this meeting is like a joke. No one is receiving any real information, no one is receiving guarantees from the university that they will be supported, no one’s receiving any actual support. They are being dictated in vague terms that their supervisor may lose their job and they have no recourse to provide feedback. That is pretty telling of how the school is being run. I would say…not the sort of school I want to be a part of. Certainly not one I will be recommending (agreement from the crowd) It’s something where things will become pretty telling in the next decade where students particularly undergraduates start to pose their preferences. We are already having conversations with students in their third year in our research group who are considering honours and they don’t want to apply. They are looking for work outside, they’re applying for jobs purely because they don’t know if there’s a place for them here anymore. It’s pretty rare that a school can lose its momentum and its ability to move really gifted and talented people into research so catastrophically in six months. This is the place I’ve been part of for the best part of a decade. I’ve been an undergraduate. I’ve been a postgraduate. I’ve been involved with the guild, I’ve sat on Senate. I am saddened as to what this school has become, we were so much better than this.
Student 2: For the first year HDR students, what are you going to do if the project they have been working on can’t be done anymore? Are they getting a years worth of extension on their scholarships? Are they going to be able to retrain, transfer to a better university?
Professor Whelehan: I guess it depends on the proposal?
Student 2: Don’t start.
Student 1: I did my Computational chemistry in honours, I’m a PHD now and my supervisor is going to go, in that case will I have to retrain in a different programme? Yes or no?
Professor Whelehan: It depends on what supervisor capacity there is?
Student 2: Well they want to get rid of computational chemistry..
Student 1: It seems there are no other computational chemists in WA. What should I do?
Professor Whelehan: What year are you in?
Student 1: First year how is that relevant?
Professor Whelehan: Well if you were in final stages of writing up you might be able to finish. If you’re in first year there is an issue and I think we need to discuss what the proposal would look like?
Student 1: What will be done?
Professor Whelehan: Well we would need to discuss it with what needed to be changed and what support you needed.
Student 2: What do we tell external partners to the University? Do we tell them that the University was incompetent and I could only do two years, that they can’t be bother. Are you going to give them an extra years funding to compensate for the fact they have to retrain?
Professor Whelehan: It might be an extended period of doing something else. I’m not a computational chemist…
Student 1: That’s right, everyone is making decisions on things they have no idea about.
Professor Ludwig: I think we’ll close the meeting as are starting to get into the nitty gritty and that’s not… We don’t know about ceasing teaching at the undergraduate or postgraduate level, it depends on the next step?
Student 2: What’s the next step?
Professor Ludwig: We will make an expression of interest for voluntary redundancy expression of interest.
Student 7: What’s the time frame for the next step?
Professor Ludwig: October 22nd
Meeting Closed after 53 minutes.