Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has called for the Welsh Government to intervene to help save more than 100 jobs under threat at a valleys university.
The Assembly Member for the Rhondda was also calling for clarity on the announced job losses during First Minister’s Questions after news emerged that the University of South Wales is consulting on axing 139 jobs.
Ms Wood, who graduated from the university in the 1990s when it was called the University of Glamorgan, said the institution had a vital role to play in the future of the local economy.
She said: “As a former student at Treforest, I know how important this institution is for the Valleys. It’s always played a leading role in upskilling people to do the work that our local economies need doing.
“There are demographic challenges and rising costs facing that university, but I don't think that should mean that we should lose the positive economic impact that the institution generates.
“As a former student at Treforest, I know how important this institution is for the Valleys. It’s always played a leading role in upskilling people to do the work that our local economies need doing.
“Now, there are demographic challenges, which you’ve alluded to, and rising costs facing that university, but I don't think that should mean that we should lose the positive economic impact that the institution generates…..we were told that many of the roles at risk will be managers, but from the trade union, I've been told that the roles to be cut could include jobs in IT, library staff and student services as well. Do you think, First Minister, that these job losses are normal housekeeping or are they a sign that these two universities are facing a difficult future?
She added: “We know that the situation around European and international student recruitment remains volatile and is likely to be for some time, but the responsibility to navigate through these difficult waters falls to us here in Wales, and it’s you, First Minister, who has overall responsibility for protecting our higher education sector.
“So, what will the Welsh Government do to support our universities? How will you help to protect these jobs and ensure that there’s no impact in the longer term upon courses?
“Do you intend to carry on as business as usual or are you going to step in and provide support and guidance to Welsh universities so that they can continue to do the good job that they do, serving our economy and our country?
Afterwards, Leanne said: “The University of South Wales is an important economic driver for the former coalfield communities of South Wales. Many people work there and it is provides educational opportunities close to home for people who are unable to go away to study for whatever reason. They also ensure the local population has the necessary skills to power our local economies.
“In addition to the substantial loss of jobs, I am also concerned that any deterioration of services at the university will make a less attractive place to study in the future. I hope the Welsh Government can work with the university to find a way to minimise the cuts and preserve an institution that has served the valleys well for decades.”
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