Page last updated at 05:44 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 06:44 UK

Lecturers' union expects job cuts

Lampeter University
Lampeter University said it was facing increased pay

A university is expected to make at least two lecturers redundant at a meeting this morning, a union claims.

Lampeter University is facing a significant increase in next year's pay costs and has to make cuts.

But the University and College Union (UCU) said it would call a strike if compulsory redundancies were made.

The university said the union had refused "constructive" talks and said it faced "some very difficult economic decisions".

Some staff have already agreed to take voluntary redundancy, but many are unhappy with the way the entire situation has been handled.

Last month, up to 25 placard-waving lecturers staged a protest over the planned job cuts.

What sort of signal does this send out to potential students and staff?
Barry Johnson of the University and College Union

But the employment issue is one of a number of problems facing university leaders.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) recently called in consultants to carry out a study at the university.

Among the topics covered in a subsequent confidential report, which is unlikely to be made public, was a review of the university's management capability and its options for "future development".

The HEFCW said it was responsible for more than 6m (53%) of the university's funding.

Meanwhile, the UCU's Barry Johnson said he understood Lampeter's vice-chancellor Robert Pearce was on sick leave and a colleague was now in charge. The university has been asked to comment.

Mr Johnson added: "As far as I am aware, the university plans to make two academic staff redundant at the meeting.

"If either of staff are made redundant we will ballot staff for strike action on 26 September.

"The university authorities have made a bit of a mess of this. That's why the HEFCW got its consultants involved.

"Having created a mess in the first place, they risk causing further damage by making people redundant. What sort of signal does this send out to potential students and staff?"

'Best interests'

The university responded by accusing the UCU of refusing to "enter into constructive negotiations".

A spokeswoman added: "We continue to act in the collective best interests of the University of Wales Lampeter (UWL) to safeguard its short and long-term financial viability.

"As a result, we are facing some very difficult economic decisions.

"We are disappointed with the University and College Union's ongoing refusal to enter into constructive negotiations with us and with their intended ballot for strike action - which only serves to potentially damage the reputation of UWL."

Last month, the university said it was "unable to comment" about the "draft and confidential" HEFCW report.

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