Following strike action in May against worsening pay and conditions and threats of forthcoming redundancies, academic staff at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Lampeter were told at a meeting on Friday Jun 24 of impending job losses which will mean cuts in staff across several departments.
The meeting to announce the confirmation of job losses was timed for when students had gone home for the summer and so were not able to respond. The actual number of staff losing their jobs has not been made clear by management.
However, voluntary redundancy packages are currently being offered to staff across the Archaeology, Anthropology, History, Theology, and Religious Studies departments. This could be followed by compulsory redundancies if enough posts are not lost through voluntary redundancy.
Members of the University and College Union, which represents academic and academic-related staff, said they are concerned that axing staff would harm the institution’s reputation and risks harming its ability to attract greater funding and students.
A UCU spokesperson said: “The university’s plan to axe staff will do nothing to enhance its reputation and risks harming its ability to bring in funding and attract students. Universities’ reputations are built on the expertise of its staff and if UWTSD is serious about providing educational opportunities in Wales it needs to reconsider these cuts.”
Responding in a statement a spokesman from the University said: “We do not recognise the context noted in the statement issued by UCU regarding the situation on the Lampeter campus and the departments noted. The restructuring exercise is a part of the normal business practice of distributing resources in an equitable manner across the University in order to safeguard its current and future sustainability. The development of the Lampeter is very positive. Over the past year, the University has developed a number of new programmes to broaden the offer as well international initiatives aligned to the academic expertise of the campus. Such initiatives will see development into such areas as, Human rights, International development, geography, heritage, medical anthropology, ecology and spirituality, wellbeing and mindfulness.
The University is engaged in a constructive dialogue with its appointed regional and local UCU representatives regarding this situation. The press release issued by UCU was not composed by the representatives directly engaged in the collective consultation process and we understand UCU are currently investigating matters.
Furthermore, the University categorically refutes the suggestion made in the UCU statement that there has been any “financial mismanagement on the Lampeter campus” and takes allegations of this nature very seriously. To the contrary, the Lampeter campus has been saved by the merger in 2011. Prior to the creation of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, there is no doubt that the Lampeter campus would have been bankrupt. Over the past five years since the merger significant investment has been made in the Lampeter campus to improve the student experience and to invest in areas which are attractive to potential students; this entails constant change and responding to external drivers as noted above. The significant investment made in the past year includes developing innovative new programmes and a range of partnerships with international organisations in relation to multi-cultural and multi-faith programmes as well as academic initiatives which will not only bring students to the campus but will also increase visitor numbers to the town. The University looks forward to developing further international collaborations over the summer months which reinforce the historic legacy of St David’s College Lampeter, albeit adapted for the needs of graduates and employers in today’s global world.
The University welcomes the constructive and ongoing engagement with its UCU colleagues in relation to the continuing development of the Lampeter campus”.