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Strike threat at University of Winchester over 'catastrophic' job cull

14 March 2024

UCU confirmed strike action could be on the cards at the University of Winchester after its members voted to consult over taking industrial action at a packed meeting last Friday.

Staff have been put at risk of redundancy in changes that would see the university close its English language programme; institute for climate and social justice; centre for religion, reconciliation and peace; and managed housing, and see cuts to psychology, acting and apprenticeships. The university claims it needs to make the cuts due to a £6m structural deficit. There are 40 jobs planned to go in the current phase, with fears of further job cuts pending. 

UCU said staff and students must not pay the price for leadership's financial mismanagement. The union will now lodge a formal dispute with the university and a strike ballot could open later this month. 

In 2021 the university installed a statue of climate activist Greta Thunberg as part of a £50m development and described itself as "the university for sustainability and social justice". The threatened closure of the climate and the social justice institute as well as the centre for religion, reconciliation and peace comes just three years later. The institute is led by Professor Robert Beckford, the university's only Black professor, whose job is now at risk.

UCU Winchester branch secretary Simon Boxley said: 'Catastrophic mismanagement from the top has seen a significant percentage of the University of Winchester's workforce threatened with the sack, and the potential closure of high profile units like the institute for climate and social justice. Only three years ago the university installed a statue of Greta Thunberg to show its commitment to sustainability and social justice, where is that commitment now?

'We refuse to allow management to take a wrecking ball to the university and force through cuts that will have devastating consequences for students and staff.'

Last updated: 15 March 2024