Academics at the University of Bath have called on the institution to look again at the decision to close its “highly regarded” postgraduate teacher training programme.
Thirteen members of staff in the department of education are facing redundancy in August 2014 as a consequence of the decision, made in July. A petition protesting against the closure, organised by the University and College Union, has attracted more than a thousand signatures.
In agreeing a motion on 9 October, Bath’s academic assembly says it is “concerned” by the closure, adding that it wishes the decision to be brought to the attention of the university senate for “further scrutiny”.
Steve Cooper, PGCE partnership coordinator and science tutor, said that Bath’s academic programmes committee had judged the PGCE to be a “poor strategic fit” with the university’s vision.
This was in spite of the programme being “still judged outstanding” by its most recent Ofsted inspection and deemed an important part of Bath’s future plans in a review by Geoff Whitty, former director of the Institute of Education, University of London and professor of public sector policy and management at Bath.
Mr Cooper said that Professor Whitty’s review had found that the PGCE was good and that Bath “ought to invest in it”.
“He submitted that to the university and the university chose to ignore it. We feel we’ve been very shabbily treated,” Mr Cooper said.
He added that other reasons given for the closure, such as the programme not being research-led, were unsatisfactory.
“Ten years ago the university made a decision to appoint teaching fellows – we’re not supposed to do any research,” he said.
Mr Cooper added that the committee had quoted the impact of the government’s School Direct policy in its decision. The scheme has been widely blamed for some universities being granted fewer PGCE places. However, despite this, “we still break even, so we don’t cost anything”, he said.
Mr Cooper added that he believed Bath’s management “has taken against us” and was looking for evidence to justify its decision.
A university spokeswoman said that “appropriate steps are in place” to protect the interests of students enrolled on the PGCE programme.
“Consultation with the…staff who will be affected by the decision to close the programme…and their trade union representatives has taken place and in accordance with the university’s policies, attempts to find suitable alternative employment will continue over the course of this academic year,” she added.