Physics job losses reflect subject crisis

July 3, 1998

Undergraduate physics was dealt another blow this week as Manchester Metropolitan University decided to scrap its degree course with the loss of 14 jobs.

"The news came out of the blue," said John Thorpe, a mathematician working in the physics department. "This action is illegal and immoral."

Dr Thorpe said the university was hiring new recruits in the department at the same time as axing other staff, a move which was prohibited under law.

The Association of University Teachers, which represents some of those targeted at MMU, has called on the university to withdraw the threat of redundancy on nine academic staff and five technicians in physics and materials science.

A motion signed by 142 people was to have been delivered to the vice-chancellor, but staff encountered a locked door. Unless a solution is found in the next few days academics say they will boycott next week's degree ceremony.

Dr Thorpe said physics was not making a loss, although the applied physics programme was only half full. "Losing physics will create a gap in our degree programmes," Dr Thorpe said. "People are upset and cross about this."

The university blamed declining demand for such specialist courses. "There is a national problem of over capacity in degree-level physics with simply more places on university courses than students," said a spokesperson.

The subject is under review at many universities around the country. Those considering dropping or significantly reducing their undergraduate programmes include Brunel, Kent, East Anglia and Coventry.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns