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Row over £2.5million swimming pool plans from job-cutting university

21 January 2009

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UCU today slammed plans from Plymouth University to splurge £2.5 million on improvements to a local swimming pool, as it considers compulsory redundancies among key academic staff.

The union described the plans as 'insensitive' and questioned the priorities and direction of the university. The £2.5 million will pay for two lanes at the Plymouth Life Centre's swimming pool.

Four months ago the university announced plans to make 101 academic staff redundant. It claimed that the staff had to go as the institution had been 'operating at a financial loss for a number of years'. However, despite anticipating a deficit of £5 million in 2007-08, the university has recently announced a surplus of £680,000. Forty staff will leave the university in the summer having taken voluntary redundancy, but a further cull is feared today.  

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The University of Plymouth has got its priorities completely wrong. How can it justify getting rid of valuable people, when it can afford £2.5 million towards a swimming pool? A well-staffed university is surely more important than investing in a pool. UCU applauds universities that work within the local community, but never at the expense of jobs."
UCU regional officer, Philippa Davey, said: "We risk losing some of Plymouth's best academic minds if the university goes ahead with its plans. Forty staff have already accepted voluntary redundancies and now we face the prospect of losing more through compulsory job losses. The spending on this pool is completely out of proportion and not what the university needs right now. The timing couldn't be worse and the last thing the university can afford to do is let experienced Plymouth people go."

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