HAMPSHIRE university staff could lose thousands of pounds due to a major shake-up in their pension schemes, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Unions Unison and Unite claim the proposed closure of a final salary pension scheme at the University of Southampton would be a huge financial blow to 2,000 low-paid support staff, including librarians, exams officers, caterers and administrators.

The Pension & Assurance Scheme for Non-Academic Staff (PASNAS) could be replaced by a defined contribution plan from August 1.

The unions, which represent about 700 support staff at the university, say the changes would mean their members would have to contribute much more to the pension scheme but get out significantly less.

Ian Woodland, Unite regional co-ordinating officer for Southampton, said: “For a typical employee in mid-career, the reduction could reduce their future service pension by two-thirds.”

Adrian Dolby, Unison representative at the university added: “Staff are overworked and feel undervalued, while uncertainty over restructuring plans is adding to their stress levels. Now they hear their pension is under attack. This could be the final straw.”

The news comes after a row erupted over the pay of vice chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden, worth more than £430,000 in 2016/17, making him one of the most highly paid vice-chancellors in the country.

Alongside this, the university also announced plans to axe up to 75 academic jobs as part of plans to merge eight faculties into five.

A university spokesperson said that Southampton was one of several universities affected by the increasing cost of pensions due to increased life expectancy and historically low interest rates.

“Any existing benefits built up under the PASNAS scheme would remain unchanged,” said the spokesperson.

The university has launched a consultation on the proposals which will run until March 13.