THE University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) have announced they are cutting up to 50 jobs and axeing courses at their Perth campus.

UHI Perth confirmed a redundancy consultation process had begun as the institution faces a £3 million funding black hole.

In a press release, the university campus noted that a reduction in higher education recruitment of late and the projected cost of living increases, both for utilities and for pay awards, had contributed to this deficit. 

Former deputy first minister John Swinney said he was “concerned” by the news, particularly “at a time of significant economic difficulty for families across the region”.

READ MORE: Call for Government to step in amid UHI job fears

The SNP MSP for Perthshire North said: “I am very concerned by this news, and the impact it will have both on the affected workforce and potential students.

“Job losses are always unwelcome but, at a time of significant economic difficulty for families across the region, this news will be particularly worrying for staff. I also believe that it is vital that prospective students have as wide a range of subjects as possible to choose from, and am therefore troubled by any potential reduction in the number of courses available.

Swinney added that he was in the process of organising a meeting with senior stakeholders at UHI Perth in order to “actively explore any alternate options to the proposals that have been announced”.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, added: "These proposed cuts are deeply troubling and, if realised, would result in the dismembering of the facility at UHI Perth.

“The consultation proposes 50 job losses with the prospect of even more in what is described as a ‘second phase’ of cuts.

“What is proposed would not just have an educational impact, there would be social and cultural impacts too with the proposed closure of the nursery and gym facilities.

“UHI Perth is one of the biggest employers in the city and it reaches into every part of city life. I urge the senior management team to get back around the table and to work towards a solution which is proportionate and workable.

Also commenting, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire Jim Fairlie said: “The news about proposed job losses at UHI Perth will be causing a great deal of distress for staff members and for students. Upon hearing the news this afternoon, I immediately sought to arrange a meeting, alongside my colleagues, to seek clarification and to work towards a better outcome for staff and students.

“I am not only concerned about the 50 potential job losses but the uncertainty of them saying that they will be looking to cut further unspecified roles in the future.

“As soon as the story broke I had contact from students at UHI Perth to raise their concerns and I am pleased that senior managers have swiftly agreed to a meeting.”

In a press release, the Perth campus said: "UHI Perth has today started a redundancy consultation exercise with our Trade Union colleagues, the college is projecting a deficit in the region of £3m as a result of the following factors; 

“Reduction in HE recruitment over a period of time; Flat cash for FE delivery with a 10% reduction in credit numbers available; he removal of the £46m for transformation within the college (£26m) and university (£20m) sectors; The projected cost of living increases both for utilities and for pay awards (which will not be funded by Scottish Government).

"We are looking at our structures and our staffing across all levels of the college and hope to reduce numbers through the use of voluntary severance and are seeking permission to enhance our current voluntary severance scheme. In phase 1 of this process we are predicting a loss of 50 roles.

"We will work to minimise the impact on our students but will have to lose a small number of our courses, we will accommodate potential students in alternative courses to ensure that they have the offer of a course which will suit their needs."