Birmingham closures will lead to cuts in jobs and access, says AUT

September 2, 2005

Academic union leaders at Birmingham University have warned that plans to close undergraduate courses in its School of Education at the Selly Oak campus will lead to academic posts being axed.

The Association of University Teachers at Birmingham claimed this week that the university's decision to close courses was part of "an effort to reduce student numbers and lift its position in the league tables". It pointed out that the university took over the site in 2001 to improve its performance in widening participation.

Yet the threatened courses have the highest percentage of local, non-traditional, mature and ethnic-minority students in the university, said Suzanne Higgs, secretary of Birmingham AUT.

She said it would be difficult for the university to be seen as an institution that supported the local community when it was planning to close courses primarily aimed at that population. Since the proposed cuts were announced, several staff had left their jobs, some due to depression, she added.

Mark Wood, an AUT representative at the Selly Oak site, said: "The whole site has lost that wonderful multicultural family feel."

A university spokesman confirmed that some undergraduate courses would close but declined to comment on whether this would lead to job losses. He said that following a management review, courses in community, play and youth were being "strengthened and reoriented" to focus on postgraduate and continuing professional development.

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