Axe over 80 jobs at deficit-hit Swansea

February 28, 1997

About 80 lecturers, academic-related and support staff at the University of Wales Swansea are facing redundancy as the institution tackles a projected deficit of up to Pounds 4 million next year.

The jobs threat has provoked a vote of no confidence in vice chancellor Robin Williams by the local branch of the Association of University Teachers. Members have also voted to ballot staff on a one-day protest strike followed by a rolling programme of strikes.

The proposed redundancies, some of which may have to be compulsory, were revealed in a worst-scenario strategy discussion document issued to heads of departments in late January. It revealed that some courses may also be in jeopardy.

Department heads are debating various options but time is relatively short as Professor Williams wants to see a new "stabilised" structure introduced by September and the start of the 1997/98 academic year.

Professor Williams has blamed Government failure to fund academic pay increases, specifically the 2.9 per cent award for 1996/97 and 2.9 per cent for 1997/98. Student under-recruitment resulted in the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales clawing back Pounds 800,000 million from Swansea in 1994/95.

In addition, there have been cuts in capital funding for all Welsh institutions of 32 per cent for 1997/98 and 47 per cent in 1998/99. Swansea's research income is also set to fall by Pounds 2 million a year despite an improved performance in the research assessment exercise.

Professor Williams said: "I am the first to say that university staff deserve much better pay but the Government has not given higher education any further funding for pay increases and this makes balancing the books impossible without reducing the number of staff."

The AUT has also passed a resolution demanding Professor Williams withdraw the "malicious allegations" that lecturers' salary increases are to blame for the restructuring proposals. And it has called on the university council to adopt a policy of no compulsory redundancies.

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