University of Portsmouth job cuts: University and College Union lodges trade dispute

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A union has lodged a trade dispute with a major university after they announced plans to put hundreds of employers at risk of redundancy.

The University and College Union (UCU) issued the trade dispute after the University of Portsmouth announced it would be making just under 600 staff members at risk of of redundancy. The university put 163 academic staff at risk while also putting a further 434 academic related support staff at risk.

University of Portsmouth have stated these moves are necessary due to inflation and a volatile international student market. However, the UCU has challenged the rationale of the redundancies claiming the university is planning to spend millions on buildings.

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UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The University of Portsmouth is choosing to prioritise new buildings over the staff that support students and keep the university running. It has rushed through a redundancy process to make unnecessary job cuts when the money is there to avoid sackings. Now that staff have overwhelmingly shown they have no confidence in the vice-chancellor, the university must take stock and work with UCU to steady the ship and preserve the university’s status as a rich and thriving institution.’

The university maintains they are doing all they can in a difficult financial situation. A University of Portsmouth spokesperson said: “Our Vice-Chancellor and senior leadership team are making difficult but essential decisions to put the University on a sound financial footing while planning for the future.

“We have not made these proposals lightly. The senior team, Board of Governors, and Vice Chancellor understands how difficult this period of change is for the University and for affected colleagues.

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“The Vice-Chancellor has the full confidence of the Board of Governors and, together with the University Executive Board, will continue to make the decisions that are necessary to secure the long-term future and financial sustainability of the University.

“The University of Portsmouth, alongside the wider UK higher education sector, continues to experience significant challenges as a result of the freeze on tuition fees, volatile student recruitment particularly in relation to international markets, and increasing costs as a result of inflation. This is a sector wide issue as confirmed this morning by the Office for Students’ Annual Report on the financial health of universities.

“However, 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.

“Addressing our current situation is essential and is the responsible thing to do if we are to remain sustainable over the long term within this challenging environment.

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“We have not received any formal notice of UCU’s intention to ballot its members on any issues at the University. We are disappointed that the results of this informal poll have been shared through the media rather than with us directly, and we have no way to verify the results. We will be raising this with UCU.”

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