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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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Changes to bus services in Ceredigion confirmed by local authority

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THERE will be changes to local bus services in Ceredigion from Tuesday 3 January 2023.

The tenders received as part of a procurement process for operating several services have shown significant cost increases. This has resulted in substantial increases in subsidy levels being requested at a time when public finances are under tremendous pressure. The higher costs are largely reflective of particular challenges affecting the bus industry currently which includes considerable increased operating costs, lack of qualified and available drivers, uncertainty around future funding mechanisms as well as declining passenger numbers and changing travel behaviours.

Bus passenger numbers have been in decline across Wales and essentially halved in the period between 1982, where there were 181 million passenger journeys and 2019/20 where there were 91 million passenger journeys. This has been severely compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a drop to 26 million passenger journeys in 2020/21, that has further impacted on the viability of local bus services.

The 22T (Aberystwyth-Devil’s Bridge), 27T (Penrhyncoch-Penbontrhydybeddau) and T29 (Tregaron Circular) demand responsive services will stop at the end of December 2022. This is due to the significant costs associated with providing them and the very low level of usage, which equate to unviable levels of public subsidy per passenger journey.

There will be changes to the timetables on the 525 (Aberystwyth-Ponterwyd), 526 (Aberystwyth-Penrhyncoch) and 585 (Aberystwyth-Tregaron-Lampeter) services. The timetables for these services, subject to submission by the operators and approval by the Traffic Commissioner, are attached. These timetables are based on proposals provided by the local bus operators and reflect what is operationally deliverable with the resources available, in terms of buses and drivers, at this time.

The T21 (Aberystwyth-Llanafan-Tregaron) and 552 Cardi Bach (New Quay-Cardigan) services will continue as currently.

All these contracts have been awarded on a 6 month basis to allow for a wider review.

Councillor Keith Henson, Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management said: “I would like to thank the local bus companies for their ongoing engagement in what is very challenging operating environment. We continue to work with them and in partnership with the other key stakeholders including the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales, seeking possible solutions and a way forward. Bus services and networks are dynamic and subject to change. Further changes are likely as the reality is that, in addition to the sparsity of resources, the amount of subsidy now required to provide the services is unaffordable, unjustifiable and unsustainable in the current financial climate.”

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Urgent police appeal for missing Ceredigion man

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POLICE in Ceredigion are appealing for help to find Dyfed who is missing from the Talybont area.

He was last seen at his home address in the Ceredigion village at around 10.30pm or 11pm on Saturday, 3 December.

Dyfed is described as being 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with short mousey brown hair with short ginger beard, and was wearing grey waterproof trousers over jeans, a blue-check padded shirt and woolly hat and wellies.

Have you seen Dyfed, or do you have info that might help us find him? Please, let us know:

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New Rural Health Economics Professor builds on University healthcare provision

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AN ACADEMIC who played a key role in decision-making in the adoption of medicines in NHS Wales and NHS England has been appointed as Professor of Rural Health Economics at Aberystwyth University.

Professor Murray Smith, an expert in the use of economics and statistics to predict outcomes in health and health-related behaviours, joins Aberystwyth Business School.

His recent research has centred on the quality of use of pharmaceutical medicine, with one project exploring the use of an inhaled analgesic for acute pre-hospital trauma pain, and others on topics that have spanned medicine use across a number of chronic disease areas.

After beginning his career in Australia, Professor Smith moved to the United Kingdom in 2007 and has worked at the universities of Aberdeen, Nottingham and Lincoln.

Professor Smith said: “I am delighted to join Aberystwyth Business School. Health economics is a vital subject because it provides methods and tools to help decision makers in the choices they face when trying to deliver high quality healthcare in a modern resource-limited economy.

“I am excited about adding to Aberystwyth Business School’s existing portfolio of expertise in research and to being given the opportunity to continue to use my skills to help the NHS to identify and deliver cost-effective healthcare and services to the people of mid Wales.”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “It is vital as a society that we continue to innovate in our approaches to healthcare and Aberystwyth University is stepping up to the challenge with the launch of our first ever nursing degrees in September 2022 and through interdisciplinary research into combating diseases, using artificial intelligence to improve patients’ health, and exploring new techniques to improve human health through diet.

“The appointment of Professor Smith demonstrates our continuing commitment to developing and delivering high quality healthcare education and research at Aberystwyth. His expertise will focus on the economic aspects of healthcare, and his teaching and research will benefit our students and beyond.”

Professor Smith’s appointment coincides with the awarding of Honorary Professorships to three executives from Hywel Dda University Health Board, further strengthening Aberystwyth University’s expertise in healthcare as well as building on its partnership with the local health board.

Dr Helen Munro, Consultant in Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare at the Board; Dr Leighton Phillips, the Board’s Director of Research, Innovation and University Partnerships, and Huw Thomas, its Director of Finance collectively have decades of expertise in the health sector in the United Kingdom.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the Board I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Helen, Leighton and Huw on their appointment as Honorary Professors at Aberystwyth University. Our partnership with Aberystwyth University continues to go from strength to strength and we look forward to continuing our vital work together in the future.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure added: “I am delighted to welcome our new Honorary Professors, who together will bring decades of experience to our research and teaching. Their expertise will further contribute to the role we have to play as a University in helping improve healthcare provision for everyone.”

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