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Flagship Welsh institute to cut 70 jobs

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University is to axe 70 jobs as it attempts to survive a £2.4 million funding deficit.

The institute is to restructure after it found that a 15 per cent reduction in public funding would leave it with the multi-million pound hole in its finances by the end of the 2011-12 financial year.

It has said that compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out when the 70 positions are cut but that it will seek to achieve as many as possible through redeployment within the university, voluntary redundancies and early retirement.

The institute is a relatively new venture for Aberystwyth, having been launched in 2008 through a merger with the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research in Gogerddan, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. This came with a five-year funding pledge worth £50m.

Wayne Powell, director of IBERS, announced the cuts when he met with staff on 5 February. He said that the institute is going ahead with a multi-million pound capital development programme to bring new teaching and research facilities to IBERS’ two sites and that 13 “strategically important” posts would also be created.

He has opened a 30-day consultation on the plan and will present it to the university’s council on 12 February.

A Facebook group opposing the plan has already attracted over 1,000 members.