Proposed cuts to courses and departments at the University of Glasgow have been met with anger by students, staff and the wider community.
The university is currently consulting on a number of proposals to merge or cut courses and whole departments. The Senior Management Group has claimed the plans would save £3m through “rationalising or withdrawing from certain areas”.
Staff and students are working together to fight the cuts and feelings are running high. Critics have attacked the proposals and claimed the savings amount to less than 1% of the university’s income and will affect over 5000 students if they go ahead.
The biggest department threatened with closure, the Department of Adult and Continuing Education (DACE), caters for students who study part-time through the day or in the evening on university level courses. Around 1000 of these students have written individual letters to the university in the hope of saving the department.
A DACE staff member said that they had been overwhelmed with the support they had received. Liam Kane, a senior lecturer at the University and a UCU union rep said staff were “delighted with the support that they have received”. Mr Kane added: “I have sympathy with the university having to address the cuts but not in the manner in which it is doing it.”
Many well known figures are also lending their support including Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti, Noam Chomsky, Professor John Brown the Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian.
At the Scottish Parliament both Sandra White (SNP) and Patrick Harvie (Green) have tabled motions calling on the university to abandon the consultation. Students have been encouraged to write to their MSPs to ask them to support Sandra White’s motion.
Labour have also tabled a motion on the cuts, however some have perceived it as an attack on the SNP and one student remarked, “This is not about the Labour Party’s hatred of the SNP. It is about the future of our university”.
Support from the Lib Dems has been described as lacking. One student claimed to have approached an unnamed Lib Dem MSP but was told that he would not support a debate in the Scottish Parliament. He refused to support any of the motions.
However senior Lib Dem Charles Kennedy MP, who is also rector of the university, has indicated that he opposes the cuts although some students have described his statements as “vague”.
Mr Kennedy recently said: “The overall maintenance of the highest possible quality of the student experience – academic and otherwise – must remain paramount.”
Mr Kennedy is also actively engaged in the consultation process. The process has been attacked and described as flawed by students, staff, unions, politicians and figures from academia and business.
University Principal Anton Muscatelli said: “We will seek through these difficult times to maintain the academic standards of the University of Glasgow and to ensure our students will continue to have an excellent learning experience.”