The University and College Union is in talks with the University of Essex over the closure of the Institute for Social and Technical Research (ISTR). The postgraduate ISTR - which comprises the Digital Lifestyles Centre and the Technology and Social Change Centre - opened in 2002 with backing from British Telecom. However, it failed to generate enough income to be self-sustaining, and the university's senate agreed to close it in October. A UCU spokesman said discussions over the fate of staff were moving "positively". "We believe the university is making every effort to avoid compulsory redundancies," he said.