PROTESTERS gathered outside Winchester University in a row about increased workloads and redundancies.

Members of the University and College Union staged a picket line at the Sparkford Road campus and also at the university's Romsey Road site.  

Employees of the university wore high-visibility jackets and held signs in solidarity with their colleagues, who they believe are bearing the brunt of the institution’s financial difficulties.

Dr Gordon McKelvie, senior lecturer in Medieval History and head of the local branch of the UCU, said: “The strike’s really on two issues: first of all, increased workloads effectively mean the staff are now doing more work than they were before for the same pay. The other issue, more importantly, is that this is the fifth round of redundancies in the past five years.

“The university has to stop this obsession with sacking people and increasing workloads all the time.

“We are sick to death of being seen as an expensive luxury and morale is at an all time low.

“This constant fear that you’re going to end up on the dole is quite real for a lot of lecturers and university staff.”

Seventy-nine per cent of University and College Union members voted to back action, with a turnout of 59 per cent. A further 93 per cent voted for action short of a strike. 

In response to the demonstration, which took place on Tuesday, June 4, Winchester University said that it was forced to take action to ensure its future, amid difficult financial times. 

READ MORE: University of Winchester students outraged over cut modules

They said: “Universities across the country are facing very serious financial challenges, with real term cuts of £6bn in tuition fee income since 2017 and sharply rising costs. Within this context, the University of Winchester is acting responsibly in its use of public funding, by considering all cost saving options whilst maintaining the high quality of its student education and support.

“Every effort is being made to secure savings through all means possible. It is important to emphasise that the proposals upon which we have consulted reflect the challenging financial circumstances facing the university sector as a whole and are not a reflection of the dedication and performance of those affected." 

Hampshire Chronicle: The protesters outside Winchester University's Sparkford Road complex

The University of Winchester is one of the largest employers in the region, contributing nearly £300m to the regional economy each year.

However it has been criticised by students for spending £24,000 on a statue of environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg in 2021. 

It has also faced criticism for staff redundancies and for cuts such as the threatened closure of the climate and social justice institute, as well as the centre for religion, reconciliation and peace.

Last year, lecturers’ union University and College Union (UCU) and Unison which represents professional service staff clubbed together also held a protest over low pay and lack of action.