Redundancies at University of Portsmouth as it proposes a major restructure to help cut its costs

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Staff at the University of Portsmouth have been placed at risk of redundancy as part of a major restructure to help keep its costs down.

Dubbed 'Academic Reset' by the university, a number of academic staff across the faculties of Creative and Cultural Industries, Business and Law and Science and Health have been placed at risk as a result of mergers of a number of schools. The university is also planning to merge the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and Creative and Cultural Industries next year although it says it is not planning to close any courses.

As a result of the restructure the university this week has begun a consultation about the possible reduction of its current academic staffing in some areas, by a total of 47 full time equivalent posts. This, it says, represents just over three per cent of its academic workforce. Staff who have been put at risk are being supported through the process and have been taking part in meetings this week, and unions have also been notified.

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University of PortsmouthUniversity of Portsmouth
University of Portsmouth | Google Streetview

The university has said a reduction in its income, fewer students and increasing costs has forced it to act with what it described as 'difficult news' in a message to staff this week. It also said it hoped the numbers of people taking voluntary redundancy and 'natural attrition' would avoid the need for compulsory redundancies.

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, said: “As has been widely reported, the university sector continues to experience significant challenges. We too are impacted by the national issues of declining income in real terms as a result of the freeze on student fees, challenges in student recruitment particularly in relation to international markets and increasing costs as a result of inflation.

“The University of Portsmouth is responding to this with a series of measures to improve and innovate in the provision of our education and in the running of our operations. This will enable us to continue to provide our students with a gold-rated education and continue to generate globally important research and innovation, while ensuring our long-term sustainability.

“Student preferences are changing and this has resulted in patterns of recruitment that have seen growth in some areas and decline in others. To give every student a consistently excellent experience, based on the teaching methods needed in their subject area, we undertook a careful analysis of our staffing and other resources. As a result, we have taken the difficult decision to consult with our academic community about the possible reduction of our current academic staffing in some areas.

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“We have not made these proposals lightly. Redundancies are extremely difficult for all those involved and we are working hard to limit the number as much as possible through natural attrition and voluntary redundancy. The University will also merge and realign a number of areas to reduce the duplication of administration. There are no plans to close courses but to resize resources to match demand and create room for growth."

News of the redundancies and restructure comes hot on the heels of the university announcing a £250m investment project which it says will create world class learning, teaching and research facilities and enhance connections between the university and the city. The projects include creating new landmark buildings, refurbishing existing facilities and creating new public spaces, such as a new Student Hub for improved wellbeing services, a new modern Technology building, a teaching laboratory building and a revised development at the Victoria Park site.

An initial consultation on the vision has been launched and planning applications are expected to be submitted to Portsmouth City Council later this year.

Professor Galbraith said: “We remain an ambitious university and we are continuing to invest in our current and future students. This includes expanding our degree apprenticeships, developing our medical school and modernising our campus to create world class learning, teaching and research facilities that enhance connections between the University and the city.

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"Addressing our current situation by putting us on a sound financial footing while planning for the future is essential and is the responsible thing to do if we are to remain competitive over the long term within this challenging and volatile environment.”

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