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No To Caerleon Campus Closure

Monday, February 15, 2016
GMB Call On Welsh Government To Reconsider Closure Of University Of South Wales Caerleon Campus

The Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) must step in to force the University of South Wales to abandon their plans to close Caerleon Campus says GMB.

GMB, the union for education services staff, is calling on the Welsh Government and HEFCW to step in and urge the University of South Wales board members to abandon their plans to close Caerleon Campus before it’s too late. GMB say that this is necessary not just for the success of the University of South Wales but for the success of Wales as a whole.

The University of South Wales was formed as a result of a merger between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport in 2013 supported by the Welsh Assembly Government. The Government Minister responsible at the time, Mr Leighton Andrews was quoted as saying, "There will be fewer higher education institutions in Wales by 2013 and fewer vice-chancellors. That does not mean fewer students or fewer campuses."

The campus is planned to close at the end of the 2015/16 academic year. Once these plans are complete there will be little left of higher education provision in the Newport and Gwent region.

Gareth Morgans, GMB Regional Organiser, said “It is an absolute disgrace and a reward for failure that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Lydon OBE, is awarded a £31,000 pay rise (16%) taking her salary to £222,000 at the same time as planning to close this iconic 100 year old campus near Newport and threatening 90 jobs.

The decision to close the campus has been based and shoe - horning them into Pontypridd has not worked. on dubious and questionable data regarding the cost of maintenance and lack of student numbers. The strategy of removing students from the campuses at Newport and Caerleon.

Students are voting with their feet as they apply to other universities. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show Cardiff Metropolitan University, Swansea University and universities in Bristol have seen significant increases in full-time undergraduate numbers since the announcement to close the Caerleon Campus. The University of South Wales will face continued challenges to recruit new students as a result of Caerleon Campus closing and students going elsewhere.

GMB members have faced a difficult few years since the University of Glamorgan took over the University of Wales Newport in 2013 to form the University of South Wales. This merger has resulted in the lowest league table position, the lowest rated national student survey, dwindling research funds, less students, the closure of Caerleon Campus and the dismantling of higher education provision in the Newport and Eastern Valleys region on an industrial scale.

They have worked professionally and have always provided an excellent service to the students at the Caerleon and Newport sites.

To now be offered derisory redundancy payments is simply insulting particularly as they learn the Vice Chancellor accepted a 16% rise in her pay in 2015."

Mike Payne, GMB Political Officer, said “Since 2013, under the current Vice Chancellors leadership, The University of South Wales has dropped in the league tables to its lowest ever position and is one of the worst performing universities in the UK with research income falling since 2014. These are significant failings mainly due to the ill informed decision by the University Board to close the Caerleon Campus. The recent financial results of the University clearly show that the disposal of the Caerleon Campus site will not realise much money from any sale due to the legal complexity of the site and future use plans.

The University still receives significant public funds in order to operate and fulfil its role as a Community University providing higher education for the whole region of South East Wales. The result of the Caerleon Campus closure will be a substantial reduction - and clearly a lack of presence - of Higher Education provision for the most densely populated area of Wales, namely Newport and the Gwent Valleys.

The Caerleon Campus, which had continuous public investment ploughed in to it over the last 15 years, could generate millions of pounds of income for the University and the region if it was allowed to remain open.

GMB are calling on the Welsh Government and HEFCW who have supported higher education provision in North East Wales to step in and urge the University of South Wales board members to abandon their plans to close Caerleon before it’s too late, not just for the success of the University of South Wales but for the success of Wales as a whole.”

End

Contact: GMB Regional Organiser Gareth Morgans on 07980 753130 or GMB Political Officer Mike Payne on 01792467803 or Ex President Newport SU Drew Burman on 07828 164586 or AM candidate for Newport Paul Halliday on 07983 880010 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823 or 07970 863411

Notes to Editors

1 Newport City Council state on its website that ‘The University of South Wales, Caerleon Campus provides unrivalled facilities on the outskirts of Newport. Conveniently situated, only minutes from Junction 24 of the M4, in the beautiful and historic Roman town of Caerleon, the campus has stunning views of the unspoilt Usk Valley, and is the ideal venue for a meeting or training session, a full-scale conference, or a national exhibition.

2 University of South Wales were involved in a costly, humiliating and failed venture in 2015 when it was forced to close its London Centre in the Docklands at a cost of £750,000 to the taxpayer because it failed to attract a single student.

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