University of Portsmouth art cuts put 16 jobs under threat

CUTS Art courses at the University of Portsmouth are at risk
CUTS Art courses at the University of Portsmouth are at risk

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TWO art courses and 16 jobs are at risk from cuts at the University of Portsmouth.

Staff at the school of art, design and media have been told the fine art and three dimensional design courses for crafts, sculpture and product design are under threat.

The move would put 10 academic staff and six technicians in the firing line.

This is over a third of staff across the department.

Proposals to save £526,000 a year in staff costs are said to be necessary to avoid the department, which is £200,000 short, being £750,000 in deficit next year.

The financial crisis has come to a head after a decision to cut one-year foundation and access courses from 2012 due to the withdrawal of government funding.

A university source said: ‘This is bad news for our city and for people here who want to pursue a creative education.

‘Portsmouth is getting rid of visual and traditional arts courses because the management feel they are too costly, but the real cost is to this city’s culture.

‘When the university cut the foundation and access courses which are recognised as the best in the south east we were told there would be no redundancies.

‘Staff that survive this consultation fear they will be next.’

Proposals including moving the ADM from the Portland Building to the Eldon site which will mean the closure of its metals, ceramics, glass and wood workshops.

In place of the axed courses, the university is offering contemporary fine art which incorporates digital media.

The source added: ‘The emphasis is shifting away from the workshop skills that employers like.

‘Students won’t see art as good value for money when fees treble next year. It will be the beginning of the end of our department.’

University spokeswoman Anne Stanford said proposals to close the courses from 2012 were due to ‘resource constraints and falling recruitment’.

Another reason was the move of the school of architecture to the Eldon site in 2013 which would reduce the number of staff needed.

She said: ‘The consolidation of two workshops into one will facilitate a substantial upgrading of equipment and allow the needs of a broader range of courses to be met.’

Academic staff under fire have been invited to apply for two jobs in contemporary fine art, and the technical staff have been asked to compete for four jobs across the department.

The consultation period closes on October 31.

*These proposals will be discussed at a Portsmouth Against the Cuts Together public meeting at the Central Library tonight at 7.30pm.