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Monday, April 18, 2005

Philosophy dispute revisited

The Western Mail reports this morning that a lecturer at the University of Swansea has resigned as an examination officer because of the difficult position he has been put in following the continued suspension of Colwyn Williamson from the Philosophy Department there.

Mike Cohen, examinations officer for philosophy students, has handed in his resignation, citing a lack of faith in the exams procedure.

His philosophy lecturer colleague, Colwyn Williamson, a strong critic of plans to cut philosophy and other "unpopular" courses at the seaside campus, has been suspended for more than a month.

Students on the philosophy course, which is now drawing to a close, have issued a law suit against the university, claiming the suspension and uncertainty over the planned cuts has damaged their education.

In a letter to the university, Mr Cohen wrote, "My continuing as examinations officer would be to implicate me in the pretence that the university has taken all reasonable steps to make adequate provision for the welfare of its students."

The University's reaction has been to warn him that his resignation may be in breach of contract and that they might force him to continue in his position. Not the most diplomatic solution in the circumstances.

The continuing crisis over the UIniversity's decision to close this and other departments continues to haunt them. A number of philosophy students are taking the college to court, alleging breach of contract and negligence, in addition a student and at least one member of staff has allegedly been threatened with disciplinary proceedings as detailed here. What is going on and why is this issue being allowed to drag out in this way?

Update: The South Wales Evening Post reports tonight that members of the Association of University Teachers have given the go-ahead for a ballot on industrial action over the ongoing row surrounding the philosophy department.

At a packed meeting of the AUT's Swansea branch last week, Barry Johnson, assistant general secretary of the national union, told members he was concerned at the threats being made of disciplinary action against individual AUT officers.

Members also condemned any threats of disciplinary action against Michael Cohen, who has resigned as the philosophy department's examinations officer on the grounds that the provision made by the university for the welfare of students in the coming examinations is not adequate.

Perhaps some new tactics are needed from the College authorities.
I thought the government brought in tuition fees to uphold and further enhance our academic higher education insitutions.

So what now, we pay (at leasat i did) to go to university and now they are closing courses? More money for less opportunity doesn't sounds like a great policy to me.
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