Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth University sticks by English Literature staff cuts

Protest at Charles Dickens statue Image copyright University of Portsmouth Enlish Literature Society
Image caption Students began a campaign when the cuts were announced in February

Planned staff cuts in the University of Portsmouth's English Literature department are set to go ahead, despite calls to reconsider amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The university is proposing reducing the department from 12 full-time posts to five.

Students have claimed it would be "catastrophic" and there have been calls for the cuts to be put on hold.

The university said any delay would mean "uncertainty" for staff.

The cuts announced in February were blamed on falling demand for courses, with fewer people taking English Literature at A-level.

An online petition against the cuts has been signed by more than 12,000 people.

Labour city councillor Cal Corkery has written to the university saying the cuts were "not a pressing financial necessity" and could be prevented by drawing on reserves, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"Given we are still very much in the midst of an unprecedented crisis I would urge the proposed redundancies be placed on hold".

Students held a protest when the cuts were announced, claiming the department reflected Portsmouth's literary tradition as the birthplace of Charles Dickens and home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Face-to-face teaching at the university was suspended in March when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

A university spokesperson said: "Delaying this implementation will perpetuate imbalances and unfairness in the workload allocations of staff, and prevent the timely redistribution of resources to those areas that need it.

"Delaying decisions will also cause a greater period of uncertainty for staff."

The final decision on the cuts is due to be made at the end of July.

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