University of Portsmouth to proceed with staff cuts despite concerns from local councillor

A CITY university will proceed with planned redundancies despite calls from a councillor to reconsider, amid concerns for local staff and students.

Monday, 29th June 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Monday, 29th June 2020, 4:58 pm
UoP students protesting over proposed job cuts on the Portsmouth Guildhall steps in February. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Councillor Cal Corkery has written to the University of Portsmouth asking for a delay after it was revealed there were plans to reduce its English Literature department from 12 to five full-time staff.

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University students feel ‘shortchanged’ by proposed job cuts

In the letter the Labour councillor said: 'I am writing to you as one of the elected representatives for Charles Dickens ward, home not only to the birthplace of the famous author but also to several thousand University of Portsmouth students and staff.

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Cllr Cal Corkery was concerned for the staff and students.Picture: Habibur Rahman

'Charles Dickens ward has a rich heritage but now finds itself falling on hard times. Not only are we the most deprived area in the city, the child poverty rate is the highest in the whole of the south east.

'Given we are still very much in the midst of an unprecedented crisis I would urge the proposed redundancies be placed on hold. The university registered an operating surplus of £14.8m and total reserves of £298m in 2018/19, the last financial year for which information has been published. With those figures in mind it seems to me such redundancies are not a pressing financial necessity.'

However, a university spokesman said any delays would lead to a 'greater period of uncertainty for staff.'

He said: 'Applications to English Literature courses at the University of Portsmouth have unfortunately fallen by 24 per cent in the last four years since 2015/16, showing a consistent decline.

'Delaying this implementation will perpetuate imbalances and unfairness in the workload allocations of staff, and prevent the timely redistribution of resources to those areas that need it. Delaying decisions will also cause a greater period of uncertainty for staff.

'It is important to remember that these are proposals, and that the university welcomes responses and alternative ideas throughout the consultation. The final business case will be considered by the university executive board on July 27, 2020 when the board will make the final decision whether or not to proceed with the business case presented.

'The university will do everything it can to support affected staff find alternative employment should the university executive board's decision result in redundancies.'

Around 50 students attended a protest in Guildhall Square against the cuts in February.

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