Students protest plans to cut humanities at Wisconsin campus

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point proposes to eliminate 13 arts majors to manage deficit of $4.5 million (£3.2 million) over two years

March 27, 2018

A US university has come under fire after announcing plans to remove 13 humanities and social science majors and replace them with programmes “in areas with high-demand career paths”.

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point proposed to discontinue programmes in subjects including English, philosophy, history, political science and sociology and to add or expand 16 programmes in fields such as chemical engineering, computer information systems, finance and management.

It said that courses would continue to be taught in fields in which majors are eliminated and that it would, in some cases, be possible to take minors in these subjects.

The university hopes that the changes will help to reduce a deficit of $4.5 million (£3.2 million) over two years, which has been blamed on declining enrolments and shrinking tuition fee revenues.

Hundreds of students and faculty gathered at a demonstration to protest against the proposals.

Greg Summers, provost and vice-chancellor for academic affairs, said that the recommendations reflected a growing preference among students for majors with clear career pathways.

Bernie Patterson, the university’s chancellor, added that fewer than 10 per cent of current students at the university were majoring in programmes proposed to be discontinued. But he said that the institution remained committed to ensuring that all its students were “thoroughly grounded in the liberal arts, as well as prepared for a successful career path”.

“It is critical our students learn to communicate well, solve problems, think critically and creatively, be analytical and innovative, and work well in teams. This is the value of earning a bachelor’s degree,” he said.

The university added that the cuts may result in the lay-off of some tenured academics.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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