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University of Wales Trinity Saint David faces 'financial uncertainties'

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107369837 mediaitem107369836 - University of Wales Trinity Saint David faces 'financial uncertainties'

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Developments have included a new home for the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering (Face) on Swansea waterfront

University of Wales Trinity Saint David is facing financial uncertainty that could cast “significant doubt” over future operations.

Its latest accounts said it might not have enough cash to continue as a going concern if some key sources of income did not materialise.

UWTSD said the risk was remote and it had acted to secure its “resilience”.

It confirmed it was looking at 110 possible job cuts and had nearly completed a process to save £6.5m.

The university has received 94 applications for voluntary redundancy and made 16 compulsory redundancies, but said it was working with staff and unions to reduce the need for the latter.

UWTSD is based across three locations in west Wales – Lampeter, Carmarthen and Swansea – and employs 1,500 people. It had more than 10,000 students in 2017-18.

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A new library is part of the waterfront developments

Its latest accounts showed a £30m HSBC bank loan, for its development on Swansea’s waterfront, had to be rearranged because it breached one of the conditions.

They warned there was uncertainty over four expected sources of income – if a combination of them do not materialise, it could give rise to a “material uncertainty” over whether the university will have enough cash.

The accounts – for the year to July 2018 – were not finalised until April 2019, said these were:

  • A large grant towards the cost of a property development was expected in 2018 but had been delayed
  • A sale of a property, subject to planning permission, had also been delayed
  • Final savings from a restructuring process were not yet known
  • Uncertainties, experienced by all universities, about student enrolment and retention

No other Welsh universities have included a similar statement in the audit report in their accounts in recent years, according to higher education finance officials.

A UWTSD spokeswoman said it had experienced “significant sector-wide challenges” and would need to “manage its resources within a difficult context” but expected to “have adequate cash resources to manage its planned operations”.

The university said it was “very unlikely that all of these circumstances would combine adversely in this way”.

“Nevertheless, to mitigate any potential risk, the university has implemented a number of initiatives to secure its future resilience as it continues to serve the needs of its learners and stakeholders,” it added.

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Prof Medwin Hughes is vice-chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

The university is behind the Yr Egin complex in Carmarthen, the first phase of which houses S4C’s headquarters.

It also has a campus in London and a learning centre in Birmingham which opened in March 2018.

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