Heriot-Watt staff '˜shocked' by job cuts

UNIVERSITY staff have been left in a 'state of shock' over plans to cut jobs.
Heriot-Watt Universoty has five campuses across Scotland.Heriot-Watt Universoty has five campuses across Scotland.
Heriot-Watt Universoty has five campuses across Scotland.

Heriot-Watt chiefs said they had to make savings after re-adjusting their financial forecasts.

A union said the university wanted to axe around 100 jobs to save £4.25 million and insisted it would fight the cuts.

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Unite warned that both academic and support staff would be affected by the move.

The union’s regional officer Gillian McKay said: “Our members at Heriot-Watt are in a state of shock.

“We know that every university in Scotland is facing a difficult time, but there was no indication that the situation at Heriot-Watt was so desperate.

“We are extremely angry that the university decided not to give any advance warning to Unite or the other unions about these cuts.

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“We have a recognition agreement in place with Heriot-Watt, and the management have a legal duty to properly consult with us. That simply hasn’t happened – and we’ve been handed a decision that looks as if it’s already made. “In the coming days and weeks, we will be working hard to support our members and to make sure that the university carries out proper consultation about their jobs.

“We will also use every bit of political pressure we can.

“We will not simply roll over and allow this to happen.”

Professor Richard Williams, principal of Heriot-Watt University said the planned cuts were partly down to global uncertainty.

He said: “The need to change our financial forecasts are as a result of a number of factors – both at home and abroad – coming together this year.

“We are immensely proud that for the last 15 years we have always worked within a financial surplus but this year we need to re-adjust our financial forecasts, and that will require savings to be made. Heriot-Watt University is distinctive by being a global university. The major downturn in the oil and gas sector has had an impact on us, and on some of our activities.

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“But we are focused on working across our five campuses in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Orkney, Dubai and Malaysia to maximise our opportunities in each of our distinct locations.

“The strategic development of the university will continue to ensure delivery of key plans that are already in place that support our distinctly global offer, including investment in new student facilities, enterprise and research infrastructure.”

He added: “Our commitment to enhancing our students experience while studying with us will see the £10 million investment in improving our teaching and learning facilities progress as planned this summer in Edinburgh, and a new Student Support Centre recently opened in Dubai.

“We are also immensely proud to have on our Edinburgh Campus Scotland’s National Performance Centre for Sport, Oriam.

“Along with our senior team, I remain confident and ambitious for our university.”