Coronavirus: 200 jobs at risk at Bangor University

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image copyrightDavid Stowell/Geograph
image captionThere has been a university in Bangor since 1884

Up to 200 jobs are at risk at one of Wales' oldest universities as it deals with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bangor University, which has more than 2,000 staff, said a fall in the number of international students enrolling had forced it to make savings.

Local politicians said the potential job losses were a "severe blow" to the area.

The university said it had tried to minimise the impact of Covid-19.

"The university has started a period of consultation on how these savings might best be achieved," it said.

"Students are at the heart of the university and our priority in any changes will be to ensure that their experience is not only protected but also enhanced."

The university hopes to get financial support from the Welsh Government's £50m Covid-19 higher education help fund.

Jobs were lost at the university in 2019 after it shut its chemistry department and downsized other areas to save about £5m.

Some UK universities have warned they may "go bust" in the coronavirus crisis without government help, with a potential fall in research investment from private and charitable sources.

Bangor University is thought to be the first higher education institution in Wales to have such widespread job losses.

image copyrightGeograph/Fabian Musto's Mother
image captionThere has been a university in Bangor since 1884

"This is a huge blow to the area and anxious times lie ahead for staff and their families," said Member of the Senedd for Arfon Sian Gwenllian.

"Bangor University is a large important employer and is vital in improving the local economy through research and providing vital skills for the workforce needed for the future.

"All possible steps must be taken to protect the jobs."

Arfon MP Hywel Williams called the news "devastating".

"I fear the situation has not been helped by the chaos surrounding this year's A-level results in England, which may have resulted in some students diverting to other universities," he said.

These were "incredibly challenging" times, he added.

"I hope it is possible to mitigate the impact on staff through voluntary redundancies."

The Welsh Government said it had provided an extra £27m to help universities during the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: "We continue to work with the sector to find solutions to the current pressures they face as the coronavirus' impact on student numbers becomes clearer."

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