As graduates and current students of the department of politics at the University of Surrey, we are writing to express our concern at reports that the department will, in effect, be closed at the end of this academic year (“Anger as Surrey plans to slash jobs in politics department”, 16 March).
This is a department that is ranked sixth and 17th in The Guardian and The Complete University Guide league tables respectively, one that provided a supportive environment for us to develop and thrive in. The experiences we had have helped us to prosper as graduates and inspired many of us in our chosen career paths. This is testament to the commitment of our teachers, who went above and beyond what was expected of them. The evidence for this can be found in the National Student Survey results, which showed 97 per cent student satisfaction in 2014 among politics students (above the university average of 91 per cent).
We would also like to express concern at how the university management has failed to communicate the full extent and impact of the measures that it is proposing. News of the “restructuring” reached many of us via social media and did not reflect the message from the university’s vice-president, David Ashton, that the changes would be implemented with “disruption to students at an absolute minimum”. For one thing, the university has overlooked the negative impact on the value of a degree from a department now apparently deemed worthy of closure.
On a positive note, the support for Surrey politics has been overwhelming. A “Save Surrey Politics” Facebook page has received more than 2,000 likes, a petition of support has 1,240 signatures and academics at other institutions have been tweeting their support. The most significant development, however, came last week, when the university released a joint statement with the Political Studies Association stating that they were engaged in “discussion on achieving a sustainable department and developing a strategy for the future”. We therefore remain hopeful that the department can be saved.
Mike Blakeney, former vice-president of the University of Surrey Students’ Union
Nikolaos Gkotsis Papaioannou
Alex Wilks, Labour parliamentary candidate for East Hampshire
Katharine A. M. Wright