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UWTSD Lampeter announces academic job losses [Updated]

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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”.

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Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit

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AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.

From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.

On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.

The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”

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Social media used to groom children young as six

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CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.

A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.

A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.

More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.

Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.

In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.

Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.

Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.

The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.

It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.

It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.

Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.

Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.

Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.

She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.

“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.

“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.

“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.

“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.

“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”

In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.

Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.

The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.

How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.

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Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.

On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.

The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.

The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”

The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.

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