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.

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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