University update

Waterhole Bar set to close

The University of Portsmouth has taken the difficult decision to close the Waterhole Bar.

The University of Portsmouth has taken the difficult decision to close the Waterhole Bar based in the Students’ Union building and will be replacing it with a vibrant, student centred and social gathering space.

With tough economic pressures affecting a number of industries and businesses, the bar has struggled for a number of years with its revenue generation and has been running at a loss for a considerable amount of time, leading it to be financially unsustainable. 

Funds that would have otherwise been used to substitute the operation of the bar will be protected by the University and put towards improving the wider student experience, teaching and other services.

The University has committed to making a substantial investment into the space to ensure it is somewhere many students will want to use. The Students’ Union and the University will be working together to develop a plan for the new space and there will be opportunities for students to give their ideas.

The space is likely to be a social hub for students, with the inclusion of soft seating, microwaves and hot water points. The aim is that it will improve upon the student provision currently in place, while providing a community space for meeting new people and even pop up events to keep the space vibrant and interesting. 

The University’s Pitstop cafe, which is just next door within the Students’ Union, is also looking to expand its menu to offer more variety of food offers.

UPSU President, Helena Schofield, said: 

“Myself and the Sabbatical Officer team (Sabbs) are sad to see the bar go but we understand that it’s not financially viable to keep the bar open. We’re excited to hear student ideas on what the new space should bring to the experience of students here in Portsmouth.
I would encourage all students to share their ideas on what they would like to see in the space to help make sure that the student voice informs decision on its development. The University and the Students' Union will update you on ways you can do this in September.”

Ideas can be sent to waterholeideas@port.ac.uk 

Where can I meet up with friends once the Waterhole Bar is closed?

  • Gun House Green, Third Space and the Huddle (located in the Students’ Union building) will all be open throughout the year and are great places for meeting up with friends. 
  • The space will be available across Welcome Month as a social space but the bar section will be closed. Planned refurbishment of the Waterhole Bar will start later in autumn and is due to be completed in December. 

Will I still be able to use Gun House Green?

  • Yes, the green space outside of the Waterhole Bar will still be available to use by students. It’s also often the home of events hosted by The Union throughout the year. 

Why is The Union not taking on the running of the bar?

  • This was not an opportunity available to the charity. However, with the bar having struggled for financial viability under a good leadership team at the University, it is unlikely this would have been financially viable for the Union either. This would have then reduced the amount of money to support students in other ways. 

What is happening to the space?

  • The space is likely to be a social hub for students, with the inclusion of soft seating, microwaves and hot water points. The aim is that it will improve upon the student provision currently in place, while providing a community space for meeting new people and even pop up events to keep the space vibrant and interesting.

Where can I submit my ideas on what the new space should be?

Where can I find opportunities for flexible work around my studies? 

  • The Union and the University both offer flexible working opportunities for students to fit around their studies. Check out The Union careers page and the University’s Careers and Employability Service to find out more.

Will I still be able to buy food in The Union?

  • Yes. The University’s Pitstop cafe, which is just next door to the Waterhole space within the Students’ Union, is also looking to expand its menu to offer a wider variety and cater to wider dietary requirements. 

What will happen during Freshers?

  • The Union are currently looking into alternative venues and outlets and will look to release updates shortly. In the meantime there are a range of bars, restaurants and nightlife providers within a short walk of the Union building. 

Who made the decision to close the Waterhole bar?

  • The decision was made by the University Executive Board (UEB). 

Where will be events that were hosted in the Waterhole bar be now?

  • The Union are currently looking into alternative venues for events held exclusively by the Waterhole Bar and will look to release updates shortly.
  • Many events are also held in The Union building throughout the year, check out our What’s On page to find out more about what’s going on in Portsmouth. 

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