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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Market-led academia

Interesting meeting of the Court of the University of Wales Swansea this morning in which, for the first time for ages, there was real debate and dissent about the actions of the College Management in closing down the Philosophy Department and effectively dismantling Chemistry. The Vice-Chancellor's report illustrated better than I could how all the activities of the University, and by implication Higher Education in general, is now becoming market-led, with academic considerations becoming secondary.

The problem is that despite the economy being driven forward by high value science-led innovations, Universities are having to react to increased student demand for media studies and other subjects ahead of chemistry, physics and maths. This will become more marked once variable tuition fees are in place. I have huge concerns about this, as do many others. If colleges like Swansea and Exeter can close down chemistry and other colleges follow suit as seems likely then our economic future looks very bleak indeed.


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