Strike action threatened as University of Portsmouth puts staff at risk of redundancy

Strike action could be on the cards at the University of Portsmouth, as the University and College Union begins a consultation with its members over planned redundancies.
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It says 398 academic staff have been put at risk of redundancy, as part of University of Portsmouth's 'Academic Reset' restructure programme that the university says is necessary due to recruitment challenges and increased costs. It is looking to reduce its academic staff by a total of 47 full time equivalent posts.

University of PortsmouthUniversity of Portsmouth
University of Portsmouth

This has been followed by further news that some support staff also being put at risk as the university looks to reduce duplicated efforts in things like administration.

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But the UCU has challenged the rationale for the redundancies and claims that far from being in financial trouble, University of Portsmouth has almost £329m in the bank and is planning to spend £250m on buildings. 

As previously reported by The News 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. 

One of the stated aims of the university's proposals is to improve student experience, but UCU believes the proposed cuts will narrow course and module options, endanger the professional accreditation of certain degrees and reduce lecturers' capacity for teaching and support because there will be fewer academic staff per student on its courses. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "UCU stands with staff at University of Portsmouth, who are at risk of redundancy due to a failure of leadership.  It cannot be right that the university is putting staff at risk of redundancy, while spending more on management and new buildings. 

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"UCU believes that University of Portsmouth's biggest asset is its staff, and if the university seeks to push through eye-watering cuts it will only destabilise the university and face the disruption of potential industrial action."

The University of Portsmouth was handed 33rd place in The Guardian University Guide 2024 – having risen up the league table by 34 places from last year.The University of Portsmouth was handed 33rd place in The Guardian University Guide 2024 – having risen up the league table by 34 places from last year.
The University of Portsmouth was handed 33rd place in The Guardian University Guide 2024 – having risen up the league table by 34 places from last year.

In a previous statement the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth Professor Graham Galbraith said it the university sector was experiencing 'significant challenges'. He said: 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."

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