University of Portsmouth to close student union bar after alcohol sales drop

UoP University of Portsmouth exterior and interior gv
UoP University of Portsmouth exterior and interior gv
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THE CITY’S university is closing its student union bar due to a drop in alcohol sales. 

The Waterhole bar in the Students’ Union building on Cambridge Road has seen alcohol sales decline 20 per cent year on year for the past four years and was operating at a loss.

As a result, the University Executive Board has taken the decision to stop subsidising the bar and reinvest funding into the social space and improvements to the wider student experience. 

It will be refurbished into a social space with street food, coffee shop, microwaves and comfy furniture open to all students.

Graham Galbraith, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: ‘We recognise that student tastes have changed in recent years and most students who want to drink alcohol would prefer to do so at other city venues.

‘Only a minority of students have been using the Waterhole bar and we’re aware that many avoid it. People were simply not using it enough and the bar has become financially unsustainable. In response, we believe redesigning and refurbishing that area, offering street food, coffee, microwaves and comfy furniture will help open it up for all to enjoy and help them feel part of a bigger student community.’

The space will be reopened for Freshers Week, but the bar section will be closed and refurbishment of the Waterhole will start later in the autumn and is due to be completed in December. 

In the meantime, the Students’ Union has started discussions with their partners about relocating the popular nights – Purple Wednesdays and Karaoke Fridays to another nearby venue. Student sport clubs and societies who planned to use the Waterhole, will be supported by the Union to find alternative venues.

Students’ Union President, Helena Schofield, said: ‘Myself and the Sabbatical Officer team are sad to see the bar go but we understand that it’s not financially viable to keep the bar open. We’re excited to hear student ideas on what the new space should bring to the experience of students here in Portsmouth.’

There are no redundancies as the bar only employed one full-time member of staff who left the University earlier this year. Seasonal staff have found casual roles across the University and elsewhere.