Up to 200 jobs are at risk at Aberystwyth University after its new Vice-Chancellor unveiled a ‘transformation programme’ that unions warn would “reduce staff by an unprecedented amount” in a bid to balance the books.

Professor Jon Timmis, who took over the role in January, held a series of all staff meetings on Thursday, 9 May after the university identified a £15m financial black hole next year if significant savings aren’t made.

Prof Timmis blamed high inflation, stagnant domestic student fees and the downtown in international recruitment as major factors.

The Aberystwyth branch of the UCU union said the plans to cut costs and boost revenue to manage the deficit will mean staff numbers being cut by around eight to 11 per cent resulting in 150 to 200 job losses.

The UCU said that while nearly 60 UK universities have already announced job losses and ‘restructuring’ plans this year, “the impact on Aberystwyth town, and more widely Ceredigion, will be significant given the university’s economic and cultural importance in the region.”

“While other savings have been announced, it is unfortunately the case that the primary savings at Aberystwyth University will be made through reducing staffing levels,” UCU said.

“This means that, in order to achieve the savings required, the university aims to reduce staffing by an estimated eight to 11 per cent within one year.

“This would, in principle, translate to an estimated 150 to 200 job losses.

“The number is similar to those being sought by other Welsh universities, but clearly amounts to a higher proportion of staff here at Aberystwyth University.

“UCU will investigate further, but broadly recognises the financial situation the university faces. “Nevertheless, Aber UCU is very concerned at the pace of change expected, the scale of job losses, and the impact on remaining staff.

“The Vice Chancellor has expressed a commitment to seek to achieve savings through a Voluntary Severance scheme.

“Compulsory redundancies are not ruled out.

“The ‘transformation programme’ includes some areas for investment and strategic ‘workstreams’ to improve the service for students and grow the university longer term.

“The union will need time to find out more about these proposals before being able to comment on their achievability or impacts upon staff.”

Professor Timmis said: “The transformation programme will deliver significant change to the university’s structures and ways of working.

“It will enable us to work more efficiently to save costs, and will include investment in strategically important projects that bring in further income and improve the student experience.

“Like many other universities in Wales, as part of the plans to make savings, the institution will start a voluntary severance scheme which will help to reduce expenditure.

“The scheme is being offered as part of efforts to avoid compulsory redundancies as far as possible.

“I do understand that the coming period of transformation will be challenging for everyone associated with Aberystwyth University, but it is essential for our future as we navigate the financial pressures that are impacting the whole higher education sector.”