Protesters play 'spot the similarity' over cutbacks

June 13, 2003

Leicester University students who are protesting over plans to restructure their department have joined forces with Birmingham University students who have been through a similar experience.

Students from Leicester's Centre for Mass Communication Research and Birmingham's department of cultural studies and sociology met on Monday to devise a joint campaign against Leicester's restructuring proposals. They agreed that there were striking similarities between the way Birmingham reorganised its cultural studies programmes last year and plans to turn the Leicester centre into a "virtual department" by moving academic and administrative staff into other parts of the university.

Birmingham came under fire from academics when it slashed the number of cultural studies lecturers from 15 to four, farmed out teaching to academics from other subject areas and scaled down the department's postgraduate programmes. Anwar Tlili, a PhD student at Birmingham, said some postgraduate cultural studies students were forced to start their programme again at a different institution.

Speaking after Monday's meeting, Matthew Capon, a communications and society student at Leicester, said: "The similarities are there for all to see."

Leicester denied there was any connection between Birmingham's actions and its own. It said that restructuring was necessary to strengthen research potential. The same explanation was given for Birmingham's move.

Academic staff in Leicester's CMCR are to transfer with clerical staff to "the departments which can best support the development of their research", the university said. Research students will transfer to the department where their supervisor is based.

"No changes to degree course provision are proposed and all current students will progress through their programmes as planned," it added.

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