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Program Redundancy, Restructuring, and the Redeployment of Academic Staff

CAUT Policy Statement

Academic units1 should be closed or restructured, or the programs they provide declared redundant or otherwise reconfigured, only for bona fide academic reasons determined by academic staff through fully collegial processes that culminate in the approval of the institution’s Senate or equivalent body2. Such reorganization should be the only reason for redeploying academic staff.

The changing state of academic disciplines and scholarship may require the introduction of new programs and the occasional restructuring of an institution’s academic units. Because academic staff are best positioned to understand changes in the academic landscape, and only where fully collegial processes have determined that these are the soundest options, new programs and other such reorganization may be approved by Senate (or equivalent) while other programs in rare circumstances may become redundant.

Program redundancy means a decision to terminate a program. Under no circumstances should budgetary restraint or the external imposition of measures or targets result in program redundancy. Maintenance and renewal of the full-time academic staff complement is essential to the scholarly, educational, and academic administrative health of academic units and programs3. This is essential to supporting an academic staff complement able to engage with the institution’s many publics and to understand its societal contexts. Neither the failure to renew the academic staff complement nor the restriction of enrolments should be used to undermine the viability of a program, creating artificial grounds for redundancy.

Redundancy should be considered only under exceptional circumstances, such as when a program has sustained a significant and likely continuing loss of students for reasons unrelated to changes in admissions policy. Although academic administrators may recommend that a program be declared redundant, the Senate (or equivalent body) should make the final decision.

No academic staff should be laid off as a result of a program redundancy.

In the event of a program redundancy, and only after a fully collegial process has culminated in a proposal that includes restructuring as the soundest option, the Senate (or equivalent) may be required to consider the restructuring of academic units. Academic staff affected by program redundancy, or any such restructuring should be redeployed to other existing or new academic units and provided with any necessary training. The employer should bear all costs associated with redeployment. Academic staff who have been redeployed must retain all rights and privileges, including rank, salary, and seniority.

Academic staff associations should negotiate redundancy clauses in their collective agreements. These clauses should establish proper procedures and criteria for dealing with program redundancies and academic unit restructuring. Such clauses should stipulate that these processes are fully collegial, with final decisions requiring approval of the Senate (or equivalent) and should ensure robust academic staff redeployment rights.

Approved by the CAUT Council, April 2013;
Approved by the CAUT Council, November 2022.

1. For the purposes of this Policy Statement, academic units and programs include those pertaining to libraries or any other units in which academic staff work. Academic units include but are not limited to departments, faculties, schools, and institutes.
2. See the Policy Statement on Collegiality and the Policy Statement on Governance.
3. See the Policy Statement on Renewal of Academic Staff.