THE University of Worcester says a reduction in student numbers, and government financial restrictions, has led to recent staffing cuts.

The Worcester News understands the drama department is one particularly hit, as the university now has two associate lectures, down from six in previous years.

The paper approached the university for a comment on this and although it did not confirm this reduction, it did say it managed staffing needs based on student numbers in specific courses.

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In a recent national BBC survey nine in every 10 secondary school said they had cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one creative arts subject, while entries in drama and music A-levels last year both saw sharp decreases this year, according to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications.

The university statement said: “The university employs well over 1,000 members of staff, as well as many hundreds of students and contributes more than £1 million a working day to the local economy.

“The university has earned a hard-won reputation for managing its limited financial resources in a highly effective, sustainable and responsible way. Worcester is the only university in the West Midlands to have avoided a university-wide redundancy programme and is one of just a handful in the UK as a whole.

“As with almost every university, student numbers on specific courses fluctuate annually, and the university manages staffing needs and course offers accordingly. This academic year, we welcomed more than 4,000 new students across a range of courses, which was an overall increase of over 100 on the previous year’s intake.

“Unfortunately, government financial restrictions are now bearing down heavily on England’s universities and Worcester is no exception. Student tuition fees have been frozen for three years, whilst grants have been reduced to just 4p for every pound of university income. At the same time ‘stealth taxes’ on the university have increased by £4.5m a year since 2012. The latest extra charge, for which there is no rise whatsoever in terms of income, is a whopping £1.3m extra in employers’ annual contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Fund. Schools have been compensated fully this year for this change, but universities have not received a penny from the Government.

“Understandably people are nervous in this situation, but the combination of the university’s managerial expertise and highly inclusive, collegial and community approach means that the university has avoided having to declare an institutional redundancy programme.”