Move to axe geology sparks fury

November 14, 1997

STUDENTS at the University of Wales Aberystwyth are calling for a review of governance after a decision to axe geology degrees forced through by the vice chancellor.

The university senate agreed last week to phase out geology degrees over the next three years. Members were equally divided over the issue, with many heads of departments abstaining, so vice chancellor Derec Llywd Morgan used his casting vote to break the deadlock.

Eight academics will lose their jobs as the institute of geography and earth sciences is restructured, saving about Pounds 130,000.

The decision still awaits university council approval, but students and union representatives are furious that Aberystwyth began implementing the decision as soon as it was made by its planning and resources committee.

No new students will be admitted to geology next year.

Craig Owen, education and welfare officer of Aberystwyth's Guild of Students, said: "The plan, drawn up in July, came into immediate effect. No approval was sought from the science faculty, senate or university council. The vice chancellor apologised to senate on this matter.

"There is a great deal of dissatisfaction among students and academics. That such a drastic plan can be executed without consultation of the very people it affects is outrageous."

Students are now demanding more say in the decision-making process, and want places on the planning and resources committee.

Chris Price, head of the Association of University Teachers at Aberystwyth and a member of senate, said procedures clearly had not been followed. "The closure of geology has been done without any consultation. The voting in senate reflected disquiet about this."

He said the lecturers affected were seeking legal advice. "We will not let this matter drop."

A spokesman said there had been extensive consultation with all members of the geography and earth sciences institute on the plan, which would maximise research coherence, streamline management and return the institute to financial balance.

Existing geology students are ensured continued course options.

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