Antidote for toxic cuts 2

February 4, 2010

Your report on the proposed redundancies in history at the University of Sussex omits one significant wrinkle ("Despite colleagues' support, cuts cause deep traumas", 21 January). The cuts have been justified by managers to the teaching staff on the grounds that Sussex is withdrawing from teaching "English social history pre-1700" and "the social, economic and political history of continental Europe pre-1900". These decisions raise at least two questions.

First, are they designed to target specific members of staff? The Education Reform Act 1988, which abolished academic tenure, established certain safeguards to protect academic freedom. Redundancies under the Act until now have generally been made where a university proposed to abandon teaching in a broadly specified area, such as an entire discipline. If the field being abandoned is defined so precisely as to apply to specific members of staff, a key safeguard for academic freedom is lost.

Second, such decisions made unilaterally by managers to re-engineer the teaching of history at Sussex according to short-term "student demand" and "vocational/employability" criteria - without any apparent consultation with teaching staff, or reference to an academic plan - suggest that the curriculum at Sussex is no longer being designed by academics.

This represents a major shift in the culture of the university that ought not to go unnoticed.

Peter Mandler, University of Cambridge.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns