Jobs at risk as University of Sunderland axes history, politics and foreign language courses

More than 30 jobs are under threat after Sunderland University bosses agreed to axe a range of course.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 2:55 pm
More than 30 jobs are at risk at the University of Sunderland

Governors have backed plans that management say will the university more ‘career-focused and professions-facing’ and all subjects and programmes are ‘educationally and financially sustainable’.

The plans involve scrapping courses in modern foreign languages, history and politics in favour of more focus on subject areas ‘of current or potential strength’ including health-related disciplines such as medicine, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

There will also be increased focus on areas of importance to the regional and national economy and those that provide clear routes into employment’ such as engineering, computer science and business.

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The university says no students joined modern foreign languages programmes, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level, at the start of this academic year. In history, 14 undergraduate students were enrolled and no postgraduate students; and there were 15 undergraduate students recruited to a combined politics and history degree.

Thirty-four staff, 20 of them part-time, are affected.

In a message to staff and students, vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell said: “I can assure the whole University community that the withdrawal of subjects will be handled properly and with care. Formal consultation with the affected staff will begin soon. Our students will be looked after in a way that is consistent with the Student Protection Plan that was agreed by the Office for Students.”

University and College Union Regional Support Official Jon Bryan said: “It is disappointing the Board of Governors have decided that a ‘career focussed curriculum’ is now the raison d’etre of the University. This new direction has immediately meant that 34 members of academic staff are at risk of losing their livelihoods. That was not a good start for staff and students as they began the new year.”

“The University prides itself on delivering high quality education. We are calling on the University to ensure that there is no detriment to the student experience as these courses ‘teach-out’, and to protect the current wages of those affected through this period.

“Union members have expressed their concern about the University’s new vision, which appears to have narrowed.”