Head of school attacks v-c in resignation letter

September 25, 2008

A leading academic has resigned from a senior post during a dispute with his vice-chancellor at the University of Ulster.

Bill Hart, head of the School of History and International Affairs, launched an attack on vice- chancellor Richard Barnett in an open letter of resignation.

He claims the vice-chancellor reneged on a commitment that he had made to reintroduce philosophy as a subject within the combination degrees programme in the school.

Dr Hart says the proposals were endorsed by Ulster's arts faculty board, with plans for philosophy to be offered from this academic year.

A lectureship in philosophy was advertised this year and candidates asked for interview. However, just days before they were due to take place, these interviews were cancelled.

In his resignation letter to the vice-chancellor, Dr Hart says the change of plans "makes a mockery, it seems to me, both of the university's procedures for validating programmes of study and your own planning structures".

He continues: "Only last March, at an open meeting, you volun-teered the statement, unprompted by me: 'We are reintroducing philosophy and will not be closing it down.'

"Then, with a glance in my direction, in case there should be any doubt about what you had just said: 'So that's something Bill Hart can take away from this meeting.'

"I wonder, then, that you are not embarrassed that, within a few short months of having given that assurance in public, you should have done the very thing you said you would not do."

In a statement, a spokesman for Ulster said: "The University of Ulster keeps its portfolio of courses under constant review to ensure that its degree programmes remain viable and relevant to the needs of both students and employers. It was decided some three months ago, within agreed procedures, that we would not re-open philosophy as a stand-alone subject because of problems with its viability.

"Philosophy continues to be taught at the University of Ulster as a subject within a range of other courses."

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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