Falmouth University has sparked protests among thousands of people in the arts community over plans to close three of its courses.
The institution believes that a degree in contemporary crafts is the university’s “most costly” and is no longer sustainable without cross-subsidy from other subject areas.
A petition to save the course has almost 7,000 signatures. The petition states that the contribution of graduates from the course to the cultural development of the UK “cannot be measured on a spreadsheet”.
Matthew Tyas, a final-year PhD student in the department, said closure will lead to a “contraction of the craft economy”. He added that the department was shocked and confused because the course had achieved its recruitment targets for the current academic year.
A memo to staff from senior deputy vice-chancellor Geoff Smith, which has been posted on the campaign’s Facebook page, lists three courses the university plans to suspend recruitment to, with immediate effect. The other two are a theatre course and a digital media programme.
A petition against the closure of the theatre course, which the university says has declining application rates and has “underperformed” on student satisfaction, has also attracted thousands of signatures.
In the memo, Professor Smith says contemporary crafts is Falmouth’s “most costly and space-intensive” subject, with “a relatively low graduate-level employability rate”.
“We cannot maintain the course’s heavy space utilisation and intensely process-led curriculum without significant cross-subsidy from other subject areas – something we are not prepared to do,” he writes. He adds that applications to crafts courses are declining nationwide.
Instead, the university will invest in new departments such as architecture and gaming, and will boost courses in entrepreneurship.
In a statement, the institution said: “Like all well managed universities, Falmouth keeps its course portfolio under active review to ensure that it’s appealing to applicants, prepares students for great careers in the global creative industries and is financially sustainable.”