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Wednesday 5 April 2017

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of Southampton Solent University:

“The articles in the Daily Echo over the last few days contain a number of inaccuracies about the University, and I would like to reassure staff, students, parents and our partners about these points.

“The Access to Learning Fund has not been cut; in fact, as a University we have increased our contributions to this vital grant and have doubled our provision since 2014. The fund allows students in financial hardship while at Solent to access money to support living costs, childcare, travel, accommodation, household expenses, books and course equipment.

“We are not “haemorrhaging students”; while the number of applications may be down, our latest figures (as of Monday 3 April) show acceptances for full-time undergraduates are up by nearly 19% over this time last year. In comparison to two-years ago, we are also up on acceptances. Our retention has improved year on year and now stands at the highest it has ever been, which is well above benchmark. The statistics show that the entry qualifications of our enrolled students have improved, with our average tariff points now at around 300.

“Any reference to the future of the University being under threat is also incorrect. The University is in a financially strong position, and various briefings and presentations have been held to ensure staff and key stakeholders that the savings we are planning to make will help future-proof the University. We are working to ensure we retain a skilled and agile workforce to continue to improve our reputation, and deliver an exceptional student experience. There are no plans to reduce the workforce by a fifth, and, as per my statement in the article, no target has been set for redundancies. 

“While these articles are disappointing, we recognise that whenever changes happen and savings are planned it will attract media attention. As well as advising staff and students on where we are, we regularly inform all partners, which includes the local media, to ensure they are up-to-date with our plans.”

Megan Maddex, President of the Solent Students’ Union:

“As an elected representative, I feel it is important to gain a greater understanding of how the student body feels which will allow us, as a Students’ Union, to feedback to the University and take action if necessary. 

“To fully understand students’ concerns, views and feelings I am working closely with my team to ensure we are up-to-date on all matters relating to this that may affect the student experience.

“At least one of our elected officers will be attending tonight’s meeting hosted by Socialist Students Southampton to hear what Solent students have to say. This will put us in a better position to represent our members.

“I want to stress that it is important we have open and honest discussions around any concerns at this meeting. I will continue to work with the Vice-Chancellor to ensure that students are heard and at the heart of any decision making process across the University. We are also keeping up-to-date with trade unions so we are aware of any action that could impact students.

“As mentioned in the Vice-Chancellor's response, there have been several inaccuracies that have been widely reported and I feel that it is right that our members get the correct information. As a result I am working to ensure the University communicates this. 

“We have a positive working relationship with the University and feel we are uniquely placed to bridge the gap between the University's senior management team and our students.

“I would like to stress that we are here for students to raise any worries they may have and we encourage them to contact us or drop into the Students' Union to discuss any concerns. Once we have a greater understanding of how students are feeling we will take steps to ensure we can move in a direction that represents their views.”