STAFF at the University of Central Lancashire could be moving towards strike action after an announcement that up to 69 jobs could be cut by March next year.

The University and College Union say that the university, which maintains a campus on Burnley, wrote to staff on Monday telling them that the jobs would be cut due to the need to address budget deficits.

However, the union says this does not make sense as student numbers have risen from 14,000 to 18,000 in recent years while 240 staff members have already been lost through voluntary redundancy packages and says they will take whatever steps necessary to protect jobs, including strike action.

University and College Union regional official Martyn Moss said: “The University of Central Lancashire has already released 240 staff through voluntary redundancies over the past 16 months, whilst student numbers have increased.

“It makes no sense for it to cut even more staff, especially when students need support due to Covid.

“The university talks about budget deficits but it should be looking at cutting the millions it is spending on building works and using the money to keep the staff that students rely on.”

Union officials say that they are open to negotiation with university authorities but that ultimately job cuts must be prevented.

Mr Moss said: “We urge the university to abandon a course of action which threatens to severely damage staff morale and student learning, and work with staff to steer through the challenges we are facing.

“We remain, as always, open to negotiating a way forward, but the threat to our members’ jobs must be lifted before meaningful dialogue can take place.

“At the moment we have no choice but to take whatever steps necessary to defend our members’ livelihoods, including balloting for industrial action.”

The university meanwhile has said that it is still attempting to reduce staffing costs and that it has attempted to minimise job losses through voluntary redundancies.

A spokesperson said: “Over 12 months ago, the University of Central Lancashire opened a voluntary severance scheme as part of a university wide restructure to reduce staffing costs in some areas while continuing to be able to support and invest in areas of growth.

“Our approach to this restructure has been carefully considered at every stage and we hope to minimise the impact on staff through voluntary exits and redeployment to other vacancies.”

Talks between the university and union are ongoing.