LECTURERS at Winchester University have overwhelming backed a strike after jobs were put at risk last month.

The University and College Union (UCU) confirmed 80 per cent of its members at the university who voted in a ballot backed the move.

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.

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”.

As well as backing strikes, 93 per cent backed action short of a strike.

A UCU spokesman said members will finalise details of the industrial action in the coming days. As well as strikes likely to hit lectures this term, the union is looking at other forms of action such as working to contract, not covering for absences and boycotting open days.

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: "Winchester University faces strike action later this month if it refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies. There is no need for this knee-jerk reaction to changes to pension costs and the overwhelming support for industrial action should act as a warning to the university.

"Nobody wants to see disruption, but UCU members at Winchester feel they have been left with no other option. The ball is now in the university’s court and we hope they will come back to us with proposals that rule out the need for strikes."

The news comes after around 100 students staged a protest at the university's Sparkford Road campus in March over the planned cuts which have been branded ‘unjust’.

In response to the ballot, which closed on Thursday (May 9), a university spokesman said: "We are on course to achieve the financial savings target – of between 30-40 full-time equivalent posts – through voluntary severance, redeployment and agreed reductions in contracted hours, without the need for compulsory redundancies. We hope to be in a position to confirm this very soon."