UWE Bristol’s philosophy degree could be scrapped, with one academic calling the move “a piece of wanton intellectual vandalism”.
The plans to cancel the course, ranked sixth of its kind in the UK according to university league tables, has caused upset to current students and academics at other institutions, leading to a petition to save it.
The university said that it “regularly reviews its programme portfolio”.
In an email to students, Dr Katrina Mitcheson, senior lecturer in philosophy, said: “We will start level one as normal this September and continue to teach all of our current students until the end of their degrees, but the suggestion is that we will not take on any new students after this September.
“We are all incredibly sad and disappointed about this decision, and we will be doing everything that we can to oppose it and find a way for philosophy at UWE to continue.”
Academics at other institutions agreed, including social and political philosophy professor Christopher Bertram from the University of Bristol and the Open University’s Dr David Roden, who said the course’s closure would be “a piece of wanton intellectual vandalism that will reflect poorly on UWE’s national and international reputation for years to come”.
Katie Preece, the philosophy student who started the petition, which currently has been signed by more than 3,000 people, said: “I count myself as incredibly lucky and privileged to have studied Philosophy at UWE. The lecturing team has been absolutely incredible.
“Philosophy embraces and tackles a forever changing and uncertain world – without it, the current ways of life would be left unquestioned, and no change would arise.”
A spokesperson for UWE Bristol told Bristol24/7: “We are commencing a review of our BA(Hons) Philosophy course and one of the outcomes may be to close it to future student admissions beyond the intake in September 2020.
“The University regularly reviews its programme portfolio to ensure that all courses clearly align with our strategic priorities of delivering the best practice-led programmes which lead to excellent graduate outcomes – either graduate-level employment or postgraduate study.
“A range of factors are considered in these reviews and any decision to close a course is always very difficult and we do not do so lightly. We have identified a number of challenges with this programme in relation to alignment with our strategy and whilst staff have worked hard to address these, we remain concerned about its long-term viability.”
Main photo: Dave Pratt