London Met plans radical course clear-out in curricular overhaul

April 15, 2011

London Metropolitan University has announced plans to axe about 400 courses, cutting the number it offers by two-thirds – from 557 to roughly 160.

The reduction forms part of a radical shake-up of the undergraduate curriculum, with a move to year-long modules consisting of 30 weeks of timetabled teaching from 2012-13.

Over the year, students will typically study four modules worth 30 credits each. They will receive a “minimum” of 60 teaching hours per module.

In a statement issued today, London Met says: “First-year studies will be more tightly organised, with an average number of 12 teaching hours per week.

“With this longer learning time, there will be more opportunity for development and guidance before students move to final examinations.”

The Report of the Review of Undergraduate Education, which was endorsed by London Met’s academic board on 14 April, says that one of the aims of the overhaul is to “ensure an offering that is sustainable in terms of current and future demand”.

It recommends that the changes be introduced in a “big bang” in September 2012.

Malcolm Gillies, the vice-chancellor of London Met, said: “Our new curricular focus will help us to target our resources much more keenly. A more uniform cohort size also gives more equitable distribution of teaching effort.

“The transition to this new curriculum will cause some pain, as we adjust to the new courses, but it underscores the university’s commitment both to quality education and social responsibility.”

A spokeswoman for the university acknowledged that the overhaul would result in job losses, but said she did not have figures for the number that might be affected.

Cliff Snaith, branch secretary of the University and College Union, said that the curriculum overhaul, with its focus on “employability”, was indicative of “radical right-wing elitism”.

“Basically the government does not want to bankroll our type of students on arts and humanities courses,” he said.

“At London Met, history, performing arts, philosophy and many, many other courses are slashed. These are well established and successful courses - for example, there are 70 plus students per year on the BA performing arts.

“None of this makes economic or educational sense for the institution, but [it makes] a lot of sense if you are an elitist who does not think the masses should enjoy higher education.”

He added: “London Met has the most diverse demographic of students in UK higher education, but our vice-chancellor apparently believes they only deserve the narrowest and most functional portfolio of courses.

“The announcement today is an attempted reversal of widening participation and of genuine community education, a reversal of everything that London Met and its predecessor institutions came into existence to promote.

"It also refers to 'big bang' in 2012. This means our current first years will have no third year.…Staff and students will resist this form of social and educational elitism and fight it by all means possible.”

john.gill@tsleducation.com

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