A SCOTTISH university has been accused of "privatising" courses under proposals to withdraw public funding from its popular adult learning programme.

Glasgow University plans to withdraw some £500,000 a year from the Centre for Open Studies in a move that will see up to nine staff lose their jobs and some courses close.

The university said it was no longer sustainable for the centre to continue running at a deficit, but pledged to make every effort to avoid compulsory redundancies and preserve the majority of courses - which attract up to 5,000 enrolments every year.

However, academics hit back, calling for a delay and arguing that it was unfair to leave the centre "totally exposed to market forces".

A counter proposal from the university branch of the UCU Scotland union, which represents lecturers, said: "We think that, at least in this time of crisis, the centre should still be able to recoup some of the teaching grant to make up the shortfall, while a more long-term solution is fleshed out.

"We are aware this is not a subject senior managers wish to revisit, but the removal of the grant was not an act of God and the postponement of its complete withdrawal, until an amicable solution to the crisis can be sorted, seems fully justified."

The UCU said the university was in a healthy financial state and could afford to delay the move, adding: "With regard to proposed staff cuts, rather than address the problem suddenly, out of the blue and in a short timescale with the ensuing panic, stress and demoralisation this has already induced we suggest the university take time to negotiate as amicable a solution as possible."

The university said the Centre for Open Studies continued to be "very important" and stressed the vast majority of courses would continue with no change.

A university spokesman stressed the subject areas being looked were ones where there was low demand and said courses which helped widen access would be enhanced rather than cut.

He said: "Widening access and providing different routes to degree courses for students who have talent and ambition, regardless of economic background or family circumstance, is central to the university.

"If approved, the proposals will ensure that the centre continues to provide a balanced and exciting programme that is in sustainable in the long term.

"Regrettably, this will involve the loss of some posts, though we will do all we can to manage this process on a voluntary basis and through redeployment where appropriate."

It is the second time in the last few years the adult learning programme at Glasgow University has been threatened. In 2011 there was a public outcry at plans to close the former Department of Adult and Continuing Education as part of wider cost cutting measures.

The university eventually recommended keeping the centre open on the understanding it would have have to pay its way as the grant was phased out.

The Centre for Open Studies offers some 300 part-time courses for adults as well as a variety of activities throughout the year, including a summer programme and public lectures.

Topics include archaeology, art, history, languages, creative writing, literature, music, philosophy and science. Costs range from £15 for half-day courses to £200 for those lasting a week or covering a weekend.