Students press CRE to probe course cut

January 20, 2006

The student union at Middlesex University has complained to the Commission for Racial Equality about the university's plans to close its history course, which threatens the future of its black history modules.

Keith Shilson, president of the union, said: "We have asked Middlesex for its race equality impact assessment. It appears that the university has not done one and yet this is a legal requirement. We are taking advice from the CRE on our next step."

Mr Shilson is concerned that the loss of black studies at Middlesex will be a major blow to the subject in the UK. He is backed by the National Union of Students.

Pav Akhtar, NUS black students' officer, said: "It doesn't seem to make sense for a university to stop a course that delivers into different cultures."

A spokesperson for Middlesex insisted this week that although the university will suspend enrolment to history in September, it was reviewing its history provision and that it was "very likely" that the black history modules would survive.

A statement from the university also said: "We are satisfied that changes to the history programme will not have an adverse impact on staff and students from different ethnic or cultural groups."

The spokesperson added that although the university had not done a formal impact assessment, it would be able to convince the CRE it had considered the equality agenda in the decision to suspend history. The Race Relations Act 2001 requires public bodies to conduct race impact surveys when planning significant changes.

The university is closing the degree because of poor student demand. The move is part of a wider cost-cutting programme that aims to save the university £10 million in operating costs.

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