UWE decides not to close politics department

The University of the West of England has opted not to close its politics and international relations department after a campaign by students and staff to save it.

March 16, 2013

Instead, for new entrants in 2013-14, the department’s four undergraduate courses will merge into one while the department’s master’s course in human rights will close.

In a statement, the university said the new offering would be in line with the institution’s “success in delivering practice-led and professionally recognised programmes”.

Last month a review of programmes recommended closing all the courses in the department.

Reasons included expanding competition from local institutions, sharply falling applications in the subject compared with increases in professionally recognised and practice-led programmes, and a “lack of strategic fit” within the university.

Vice-chancellor Steve West said that significant challenges remained for politics and international relations at UWE and that major changes were required to bring about necessary improvements in the area.

Professor West said he had received a large amount of input from staff, students, the University and College Union, external examiners and professors of politics and international relations at other institutions over the recommendation.

In a statement to Times Higher Education he added that he hoped to build on their “passion and professionalism” to create something “that is both new and truly unique”.

A petition to save the department - backed by UWE Students’ Union and branches of the University and College Union at the institution and the University of Bristol - gathered more than 700 signatures.

Emily Hazell, a politics student who campaigned against the closure, said that students welcomed the decision to retain the department and would work with staff to “ensure that the remaining programme captures that which moved us to unilaterally and vociferously oppose the potential closure”.

However, some students still had concerns about the wider ramifications of the “strategic vision” for the university, and specifically the humanities department, she added.

There were also concerns about the “wider presumption” that students at post-1992 universities like UWE “cannot cope with nor do not want - nor succeed at, once given the chance at university level – ‘academic’ options”, she said.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

Instrumentalism nearly won. Time will tell if the department is crippled by the restructuring.

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