Parents say they'll be forced to quit studies if University of Portsmouth nursery closes

Watch: Parents tell ITV News Meridian's Christine Alsford why the nursery is a vital service

Parents in Portsmouth say they will be forced to drop out of their studies if the city's university nursery closes.

The nursery at the University of Portsmouth provides subsidised childcare for students.

It offers means Nicola, a mature student and mother, can study full time for her social work degree while the nursery looks after her two-year-old Rudy. But now the future of the nursery is facing closure and says her future plans are in disarray. Nicola said: "I'm going into my second year - without the nursery I will be unable to continue.

"It's taken years to get to this point - a lot of saving and cutbacks made for me to leave full time work - and to be told with three months notice this is closing - it's not fair."

The nursery provides vital childcare while Nicola concentrates on her studies. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Nicola and her husband say they face an increase in childcare costs of £600 a month to go elsewhere, and waiting lists for places at other local nurseries are of two years or more. They are also worried about the impact of moving settled and happy children. A petition urging the university to reconsider has won widespread support, with more than 1,300 people already adding their signature. The 18 staff who work there believe the decision has been poorly handled. Nursery practitioner Sian Hitchcock said: "We are disappointed. We feel the nursery is such an asset and we want to save it, so we're fighting to save it."

More than 1,300 people have already signed the petition to keep the nursery open. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The University says frozen tuition fees and rising inflation means it cannot carry on running the setting at a loss.

A spokesperson said: "The proposed closure of the University of Portsmouth nursery is subject to a consultation process across July and August. 

"However, if the consultation concludes that the nursery will close, this is expected to happen in December 2022.

"A decision to close the nursery is not one that the University will take lightly and we understand the impact this will have. If the University decides to close the nursery, children and their parents affected by the proposed closure will be supported by the University to find alternative childcare.

"The University nursery runs a substantial annual operating deficit to subsidise 37 places which is unsustainable given that University finances are constrained by frozen tuition fees and rising inflation." A final decision is due to be made about the nursery's future on September 6.