Staff at Heriot-Watt University have backed strikes in a dispute over moves to axe 130 jobs.

In the ballot of University and College Union (UCU) Scotland members, 77% of those who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 66%.

The union says the proposed job cuts are rushed and that alternative savings have not been properly explored. 

The planned job losses also come on the back of a further 70 jobs having already been cut in 2017, UCU leaders said, adding that losing so many staff in such a short timescale was bound to impact on both the student experience and the university’s reputation.

It also said it remained open to negotiation, and wants to work with the employer to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. The local branch is due to meet later this week to consider its next steps.

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: “By voting in these numbers UCU members at Heriot-Watt university have made it crystal clear today that they have no confidence in the university’s plans to cut jobs. The ballot result is a clear mandate for industrial action and to oppose job cuts.

“The employer has made good progress on seeking volunteers and should now take compulsory redundancies off the table, to give staff some job security and stability, and students the reassurances they need on the learning environment.  It’s not too late for the university to avoid strike action but they need to act now.”

A spokesperson for Heriot-Watt University said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the ballot.

"We will continue to work closely with our staff, our unions and our governing body to find the best possible way through the current financial challenges so that we can continue to deliver the changes needed to protect our future success as a university.

"We are continuing to work through staff applications for voluntary redundancy, and remain committed to achieving savings through this route wherever possible. We continue to meet regularly with our union colleagues in open dialogue.”