Strike action looms at university over threat to hundreds of jobs

Employees at Sheffield Hallam University will strike after it was confirmed that as many as 400 roles could be cut.

Job losses will reportedly affect non-academic staff, with a voluntary redundancy scheme due to begin this month.

A spokesman for the university said external pressures has forced it to take “tough decisions”. Sheffield Hallam, which employs about 4,500 people, said an expected fall in international student recruitment would require cutting back staff costs to ensure a “healthy financial position”.

However, the University and College Union (UCU) has accused the university of going ahead with expensive building projects and satellite campuses, while launching “a wholesale attack on staff and students.”

UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: “Our members do not take the decision to strike lightly but Sheffield Hallam staff have voted for action because they cannot stand by and let management force though these outrageous cuts which would see teaching, research and academic standards torn to shreds.

“It is disgraceful to see that rather than reviewing its spending on new buildings and a satellite campus halfway across the country, management would rather slash jobs, jeopardise academic standards, and tear up our hard-won terms and conditions.

“If university management do not stop these attacks on staff, they will face unprecedented disruption.”

The union says dates for strikes will be revealed in due course. It adds that 87% of its members who voted have supported industrial action, on a turnout of 53%.

A university spokesman told the BBC it would do “everything possible” to avoid compulsory redundancies and would continue to engage with trade union representatives.

The spokesman added: “We are disappointed UCU has voted to take action. Our priority during any industrial action will be to do everything possible to minimise the impact on our students and wider community.”