LECTURERS will go on strike later this month in a bid to fight proposed job cuts at Winchester University.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have announced they will be on strike on Tuesday May 28, Wednesday May 29, and Monday June 3 to Wednesday June 5.

The union has said that, as well as the strikes, its members will also undertake “action short of a strike” from Thursday 30 May. This will involve strictly working to contract, not covering for absences and boycotting open days.

As previously reported, a spokesman for Winchester University said in March 118 members of academic staff have been "invited to consider voluntary severance", although the spokesman added the university is looking to cut between 30 and 40 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts.

Since then, the union said it received a letter from the university, setting out plans for 55 job losses, 48 of which were classed as academic and research posts. This number may be higher due to part-time workers being placed at risk.

According to the union, the reason behind the decision was the university was “facing a serious financial challenge, arising mainly from the unexpected large increase in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme”.

The move sparked a backlash among students, with around 100 students staging a protest at the university's Sparkford Road campus in March over the planned cuts which have been branded ‘unjust’.

However, a Winchester University spokesman was hopeful it could achieve proposed cuts through voluntary redundancies, potentially removing the need for strikes.

In response to the ballot, which closed last Thursday (May 9), a university spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the UCU has announced this action, which will inevitably cause disruption to students, when there is no need for it to take place.

"From our discussions with the UCU, they are aware that the university is on course to achieve our financial savings target through the voluntary severance scheme, without the need for compulsory redundancies.

"We are currently awaiting completion of the process with the final few individuals taking voluntary redundancy, at which point the University will formally announce that there will be no compulsory redundancies. We expect to be able to make this formal announcement in the next few weeks.

"We are equally disappointed about the inaccuracies contained with recent UCU press releases relating to the proportion of staff taking voluntary severance. The University is seeking savings from 30-40 FTE posts, which equates to less than 5 per cent of the University’s salaried workforce.”

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: "UCU members at Winchester have made it quite clear that they will not stand by if the university is going to push ahead with these dangerous cuts.

"There is absolutely no need for this sort of reaction from the university and we hope the looming strike dates will focus the minds of those in charge.

"Nobody wants to see disruption, but staff feel they have been left with no option other than industrial action."