Salford culls courses ‘to secure future’

The University of Salford has confirmed plans to close virtually all courses in modern languages, politics and contemporary history and shut down an entire school “to secure the future of the university” after seeing falling student demand.

University of Salford, Maxwell Building

Maxwell Building, University of Salford

Salford has also announced another 46 jobs are at risk, affecting both professional services staff and academics. The University and College Union said it could not rule out strike action, calling the latest announcement the 13th round of job cuts in the last two years.

In a further development, the troubled institution has sacked its deputy vice-chancellor, Adrian Graves, for gross misconduct after he was investigated following an alleged row with a student at the university’s swimming pool.

In May, Times Higher Education revealed a leaked Salford management document outlining a communications strategy to handle “what without doubt will be a very controversial announcement on 5 June”, involving course closures in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences.

In an email sent to students today, Martin Hall, the Salford vice-chancellor, writes to inform them of “measures we are proposing to take to secure the future of the university”.

Professor Hall writes that “as we would no longer recruit, after 2013, to modern languages, linguistics and areas of politics and contemporary history (except postgraduate security studies programmes), the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences would eventually be disestablished”.

In the leaked May document, it appeared that Salford was considering closing the courses immediately – even though it was still accepting students on to those courses.

However, Professor Hall now says: “I would like to stress that all students currently studying on our programmes or joining us in September 2013, will continue to be taught to the conclusion of their studies.”

A Salford spokesman said: “These changes are as a result of changing demand within higher education and from employers. We are continuing to recruit strongly in our key areas of strength such as media, technology, science, engineering and health, but other areas are showing low levels of interest from applicants.

“The university remains strong and financially healthy with a projected surplus for this year, and these changes are about ensuring that we can use our resources to benefit students in areas that are in demand with employers.”

In a statement on Dr Graves, Salford’s spokesman said: “Following an investigation conducted by a special committee, chaired by an independent member of the university council, and after the completion of an appeal process, Dr Adrian Graves has been dismissed from the university for gross misconduct. No compromise agreement payment has been made to Dr Graves.”

The Manchester Evening News had reported that Dr Graves was “alleged to have exchanged heated words with a mature student after a collision in the university’s five-lane pool” in February.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Surely if they shut down a major school they are no longer a university, but a specializing academy?

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  • Absolute joke closing one of the few credible research areas of the university (if universities aren't about research just call them school). Good luck with the failed and expensive vanity media wannabe project at Media City.

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  • As presumably staff will vote with their feet I think their commitment that students will be continued to be taught is highly questionable. I'd be asking by whom?

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  • mgpiety

    What employers want and what the need are not necessarily the same thing. This is particularly true with the media. If the university is going to continue to educate students about the media, then it needs to continue to educate them in foreign languages, history, and politics, not to mention the rest of the humanities. See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/02/28/the-writing-on-the-wall/

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  • Silly, short sighted reaction

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  • Some of the ex-Colleges of Advanced Technology of the 1960s seem to be re-directing strategy towards their original strengths relating to science, technology, business and commerce teaching and research.
    The former CATs being:
    · Loughborough CAT became Loughborough University
    · Northampton CAT (London) became City University London
    · Chelsea CAT was subsumed into King's College London
    · Battersea CAT became the University of Surrey
    · Brunel CAT became Brunel University
    · Bristol CAT became University of Bath
    · Cardiff CAT became part Cardiff University
    · Birmingham CAT became Aston University
    · Salford CAT became the University of Salford
    · Bradford Institute of Technology became University of Bradford

    They mostly reside outside the Russell Group, but a couple are members of the University Alliance group of 24, which also focuses on these subject domains.

    The recent development of Advanced Apprenticeships from HNC to Masters degree (QCF levels 4 to 7), would seem to present an opportunity for a new technical-type University re-grouping formed from some of these HEIs, which could potentially provide both ‘best in class’ teaching and practice-based research, enhanced through their differentiated inherent academic strengths, potentially attractive to commercial partners and students seeking careers in the industrial professions.

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  • Would they have had to do this if they hadn't spent so much on their ill-conceived Media City vanity project? I suspect the destruction of such a good department has less to do with student numbers than it has to do with financial overstretch. At this rate they'll end up being little more than a media college.

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  • It would be a great shame to see the excellent Modern Languages courses and specialist translation and interpreting courses at Salford close.

    Salford University's modern languages courses, and their translation courses, have long been widely respected as leading courses at the practical end of the translation world. These are not academic "medieval literature in foreign" courses, but practical courses that focus on current use of languages. Because of this, Salford's language graduates are highly employable.

    Salford University languages graduates have gone on to careers as professional translators, to chair the Chartered Institute of Linguists, to chair the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (the two leading professional bodies in the languages and translation sectors), and to senior academic positions at other universities.

    I very much hope that the university will review this decision, and consider retaining these highly-respected language courses and postgrad translation courses.

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  • Others might need to be sacked for the six-figure misadventure of pursuing a former lecturer for libel in an ill-conceived action that was dismissed at a preliminary stage by the Court. Talk about vanity projects...

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