Campaigners battle plans to close UEA's School of Music

A campaign has been launched to save the University of East Anglia’s School of Music after an internal review recommended its closure.

November 2, 2011

Edward Acton, vice-chancellor of UEA, commissioned the review on the school’s future following on from a similar review undertaken in 2002.

He said that “difficult decisions” had to be made after it found that continuing to fund music at UEA may divert resources from, and possibly put at risk, other disciplines.

“In a harsh and increasingly competitive and market-focused environment, that is a step that UEA cannot afford to take,” Professor Acton said.

However, opposition to the decision, which has yet to be ratified by the university’s council, has already started to mount.

A petition launched this week, which has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures to date including that of musician and television presenter Jools Holland, describes the school as a “vital and current part of an inter-institutional community of practice and research”.

In a statement, the organisers claimed the UEA review had been a fig leaf to support a “foregone conclusion”.

“The creative and performing arts clearly present administrative and accounting challenges in the current climate,” the statement says.

“Other institutions have met these with creative solutions; instead of commissioning a review to confirm the unsustainability of the status quo, we would ask UEA to think harder about how to do so.”

The School of Music at UEA currently ranks in the top 20 for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey.

Although the school’s RAE scores fell significantly between the 2001 and 2008 exercises, the campaigners claimed that this was “not that surprising” given the introduction of a new degree course and the doubling of the undergraduate intake.

Professor Acton said that, regardless of the council’s decision, UEA was “determined to ensure that current students in the school are strongly supported and are able to complete their studies successfully”.

The recommendations from the report will be presented to UEA’s senate on 9 November. A final decision on the school’s future is expected after a council meeting on 28 November.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com

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