Job cuts at University of Portsmouth as staff asked to consider quitting

Vice chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith
Vice chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith

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STAFF at the city’s university are facing job cuts as bosses battle to save cash.

Workers at the University of Portsmouth received an e-mail penned by vice-chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith and two senior union leaders.

Bosses are set to open a voluntary severance scheme in May – with members of the 2,500-strong workforce able to apply.

The fight to save cash comes just weeks after the university spent £800,000 on a rebrand, including a new logo.

Dr James Hicks, branch secretary of the University and College Union, said: ‘I think all universities are looking to make the kinds of savings that Portsmouth is looking to make.

‘When the details of the scheme come out then we’ll deal with the enquiries that members may have about their specific concerns.

‘I believe it’s a wider sector problem.

‘Portsmouth is in a better position than a lot of other universities.’

Dr Hicks, a senior lecturer at the university, said the scheme was different from redundancies and it would allow all staff to apply – with their applications to leave then considered by bosses.

It comes as the university had asked departments to find savings of five to seven per cent cuts or boost their income.

Writing to staff in an e-mail on Thursday, Prof Galbraith, UCU’s vice-chair Phil Verrill and Unison branch chair Chris Burke-Hynes said: ‘We need to respond to the sector challenges and to seek to create opportunities from them so that our long term strength and sustainability is secured.

‘Against this background, the university is working in partnership with UCU and Unison to develop a voluntary severance scheme which could be offered to all staff.’

The e-mail added: ‘It would seem that there are some staff who would like to take the opportunity of leaving the university if this could be achieved through a mutually agreed financial package.’

The university said it is facing ‘competitive student recruitment’ and is losing £4.5m income in 2018/19 and at least the same again the year after due to a freeze on undergraduate tuition fees.

Applications to the university from 18-year-olds have dropped by 3,220 down to 13,620 between 2014-17. Nationally applications to go to university this autumn are down 11,000 from last year.

A university spokesman said there are no ‘specific savings or other targets for the number of staff’. He said the scheme ‘will provide opportunities for staff by creating room for career development’.