Courses will be combined to keep university department's future safe
THE future of the politics and international relations department at the University of West of England has been safeguarded, after the possibility of closing it was dismissed.
The university's vice-chancellor, Steve West, had considered shutting the department due to a lack of demand for places on its courses.
He said there had been a "significant" drop in demand for courses run by the department at its Frenchay campus over the past two years.
A campaign was launched by students and staff in a bid to convince Professor West to keep it open. An e-petition launched in opposition to the closure of the department was signed by more than 700 people.
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Yesterday, Prof West said the department would not close and that courses in politics and international relations would now be combined to create a "radically new offer". He said the courses would continue to be available if there was a demand for them.
Prof West said: "I have listened to staff, students and distinguished alumni, who have engaged with both passion and professionalism. I think we can build on that passion and professionalism and maintain the high levels of student satisfaction we achieve and produce something that is both new and truly unique.
"Unlike many of our other courses, politics and international relations has suffered from falling demand both nationally and locally. Politics and international relations will be available at the university so long as enough students wish to study it and we can maintain our high quality standards."
Prof West had said there had been a large increase in demand for professionally-recognised and practise-led courses at the university as demand for politics and international relations courses had dropped off.
The university's students' union said the politics and international relations courses were well-regarded and attracted high satisfaction ratings. A high percentage of those taking courses run by the department go on to further study or work.
Jennifer Darch, 40, who is studying international relations at UWE, campaigned against the closure of the department, which she said boasted a team of "committed and dedicated" staff.
Despite the announcement that the department would remain open, she believes courses run there would be watered down under the proposals.
She said: "The university has said it won't close the department but it is quartering it, which will mean getting rid of staff.
"I think it's a compromise and the proposals will lead to it shutting in a couple of years. I think the courses run by the department will be swallowed up by other courses.
"I'm studying for a post grad in international relations, which is quite theory-focussed. Under the plans put forward, I don't think that specialist knowledge will be available."