QMU's drama, no crisis

May 21, 2009

Queen Margaret University is not the subject of a Quality Assurance Agency investigation ("Quality concerns take centre stage as staff quit over dramatic changes", 14 May). The validation process for our new drama and performance programme, using independent external expertise, was rigorous and inclusive.

Seven staff did not resign over this issue. They left over a period of years for a variety of reasons, including retirement and for posts elsewhere.

The new degree does not signal "a withdrawal of commitment to practice-based theatre education and training"; rather, it establishes a highly distinctive programme that focuses on interdisciplinarity. It breaks down the barriers between the specific focus of the conservatoire and education in theatre arts to interrogate through practice what is meant by drama, theatre and performance. It is taught by practitioners whose work is informed by and challenges theory. There is nothing "conventionally academic" about a programme that fuses the creativity and the skills and expertise our staff possess to allow students to develop as articulate and innovative practitioners.

Our withdrawal from conservatoire training was largely a response to chronic underfunding, but as a member of the Scottish Stage and Screen Network for Drama Training we continue to be fully committed to drama training and education.

Anthony Cohen, Principal and vice-chancellor, Queen Margaret University.

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