In an earlier article, we reported that the government announced a huge reduction in funding for arts courses across the board. Now, according to UCAS, as many as two thirds of programmes on offer this year could be unavailable to new students from next year.
Some universities have said courses were removed from the UCAS listing with little warning and no consultation process.
Part of Broad Government Changes
Staff at London South Bank University stated that many of their courses would go. They’ve now agreed with the UCAS assessment. They’ve also pointed to widespread concern in many academic communities around the government’s higher education reform.
UCAS is at the forefront of checking this information. Early data suggests that as LSBU alone, the courses will drop from 155 this academic year to 50 in the next. This will significantly reduce income, the number of students, and the local economy that has come to rely on a student base.
However, the university itself (which has expressed similar concerns) reiterated that the number of specialisations were dropping. The number of humanities courses being dropped altogether number just two: geography and history.
Cuts Now Leading to Strike Ballots
Not only are courses closing, but at some institutions whole departments will cease. The government says these universities are providing low value – both to students and the taxpayer. Some critics say this is purely about earning potential for the student, that academic study is more about than pure contribution to tax income.
Many higher education unions have balloted their numbers. 1,300 staff at the University of Liverpool voted for a three-week strike which started 24th May.
University of Leicester backed a marking and assessment ban on student work over because of the planned redundancies. They are also telling students not to apply to study there and cancelled international student events.
Redundancies Hitting Universities Hard
Some higher education institutes are already making redundancies in preparation for funding cuts. The strike ballots and action are more than about government cuts. In some cases, faculty is being laid off purely on the amount of research funding they’ve been able to attract.
LSBU continues to see cuts and redundancies with the closure of history and human geography undergraduate programmes. At PG level, they’ve had to end refugee, development, and sustainability studies. Worth noting that LSBU has a higher-than-average proportion of ethnic minority students.
Knee Jerk Reaction?
Going back to LSBU, it’s believed some of these closures are reactionary to avoid the Office for Students penalising them. OfS currently has the power to close underperforming courses but have not yet singled out any courses for closure.
It was that measure that spurred on LSBU to close underperforming courses to improve student outcomes.