Writtle vice chancellor Tim Middleton said: "We have taken the difficult decision to stop recruitment to a small number of degrees as part of a necessary package of measures to reduce our operating costs. We are concentrating on developing a growth strategy which will include new programmes that are closer aligned to the resources of our land-based institution.
"Our Horticulture and Landscape Architecture & Garden Design courses are unaffected by these measures but we will be refocusing and enhancing our degrees in line with future developments in the sector."
The "strategic change agenda" announced to staff is designed to align costs with income and which includes proposals for a reduction in staffing in several professional service areas "with minimal changes to permanent staffing in our front-line learning and teaching areas".
"As an education institution, our income is directly based on enrolments achieved and in some areas these have dropped as the sector faces the challenges of the falling number of 18-year-olds and an uncertain marketplace."
Management is meeting with staff and students in those areas where changes are proposed to hear suggestions that might reduce the need for the proposed staff reduction and further explain the rationale for the proposed changes.
University and College Union regional support official Jane Thompson said: ‘We are calling on Writtle University College to withdraw its current plans to cut courses and jobs, and to work with us to fully consider all alternatives. Our members are demanding a commitment to no compulsory redundancies and have reiterated that they are willing to be balloted on industrial action if such a commitment cannot be secured."