Students in tears after London Metropolitan University slashes courses by 70 per cent

LONDON Metropolitan University is slashing the number of courses it runs by more than 70 per cent – putting jobs and students’ education at risk.

The university, based in Holloway Road, Holloway, announced on Friday that it would be drastically reducing the number of courses it offers from 557 to 160 – and most arts and humanities departments are to be scrapped altogether.

There were desperate scenes when the news broke, with scores of angry students flooding the offices of the students’ union, and many breaking down in tears at the prospect of having to change courses or even universities to complete their degrees.

Claire Locke, communications and campaigns officer at London Met Students’ Union, said: “We were expecting cuts, but these are not cuts – this is an absolute massacre. It’s going to have a catastrophic impact on the students at London Met. We had 100 students in the office who were crying and devastated.”

The announcement was made shortly after the university revealed the fees it will be charging from autumn 2012. Unlike many similar universities, which are charging at or near to the maximum level of �9,000 a year for all courses, many programmes at London Met have been set at �4,500, while the average will be less than �7,000.

Ms Locke added: “Cutting the courses to such an extent and charging rock bottom prices will affect the value of former students’ degrees. Having the London Met stamp on my degree is not going to help me get a job.”

Departments that will be closed include history, philosophy and performing arts. The university is already in the process of making 130 jobs redundant, and these cuts are expected to increase that figure to hundreds.

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The university has said the transition to the new course portfolio will begin in September, and it is expected to be complete by the following year – casting a shadow of uncertainty over the education of many students who started this year.

Cliff Snaith, secretary of the London Met branch of the University and College Union, said some undergraduates may have to change programme or even university because their subjects will be discontinued - and that he expects there to be more than 100 further job losses. He added: “The Vice Chancellor has argued that there is no demand for these courses, but that is total rubbish. History already has 32 applications for enrolment in 2011, and performing arts has 65. There’s no reason to cut these programmes at all.”

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn took to twitter to vent his anger at the cuts on Friday, saying he was “appalled and disgusted”. Speaking later, he added: “Obliviously this puts a large number of jobs at risk, and students currently on courses about to be abolished are going to get a short deal. London Met brings in students who might not otherwise go into higher education, but these cuts will narrow their opportunities – which is wrong.”

Professor Malcolm Gillies, Vice Chancellor of London Met, said: “Our new curricular focus will help us to target our resources much more keenly. A more uniform cohort size also gives more equitable distribution of teaching effort.

“The transition to this new curriculum will cause some pain, as we adjust to the new courses, but it underscores the university’s commitment both to quality education and social responsibility.”