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4 · News ·1stMarch 2010


QueenMary pushed through closure of ‘flagship’course

QueenMary alsomade financial saving fromterminating coursewith falling application levels

One of McKane’s letters to Queen


Correspondence acquired by London Student under the Freedom of Infor- mation Act has revealed that Queen Mary University (QMUL) pushed through the closure of a unique “flag- ship” course taught jointly with City University, against the wishes of col- leagues at City.

London Student first reported on the

closure of the Journalismand Contem- porary History BA, the only one of its kind in the country, in Sept 2009,when Queen Mary stated that “Recruitment for the course has proved difficult in re- cent years. This is in contrast toQueen Mary’s other history degrees.” Figures showing that applications to the course did drop off sharply in recent years, with the decline in demand seeing 192 applicants in 2005 drop to 77 in 2009. But, in addition, documents ob-

tained by London Student show that QueenMary anticipated financial bene- fits, with an estimated £200k per year saved on the fee income that was being paid to City. Other “advantages” that the Queen Mary History Department proposed to the Principal’s Steering Committee (PSG) included simplifica-

Mary reveals that she felt “the decision seems to have been taken to close [the course] without giving us at City a chance to make some points”, and hence the closurewas “a surprise.” She warns of the possibility of redundancies at City if the course is closed and hopes to “reopen discussion” in order that the

‘It has now reached its

use-by date’

- Virginia Davis, Head of QMHistory Dept.

tion of timetabling and examination processes, as well as the opportunity to “enhance” student satisfaction scores in the National Student Survey – appar- ently implying thatCity standardswere dragging down satisfaction rates of stu- dents on the joint course. In early August, before the decision was officially endorsed by thePSG,Pro-

fessor Virginia Davis, Head of History at Queen Mary, urged senior manage- ment to take swift action to terminate the course. She described City Journal- ism lecturer AnnaMcKane as “angry” that studentswhowanted to defer their places offered for 2010were told that the 2009 intake was “likely” to be the last. McKane is also said to have argued that at least one more cohort of students should be admitted in 2010.

decision “can be rescinded”. Despite calling the the course a

“flagship degree”, Davis stated in a presentation to seniormanagement that “it has now reached its ‘use by’ date and…we canmakemore exciting use of the available resources.” The driving force behind the closure is clearly Queen Mary because Professor Julius Weinberg, Acting Vice-Chancellor of City University, writes that City “may

look for analternative partner so thatwe can continue the course”. However,Weinberg, assured David

Bolton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of QueenMary that the termination of the course would not “affect the relation- ship” between theUniversities. ACityUniversity spokespersonsaid:

“Students on theBAin Journalismand ContemporaryHistory, offered in part- nershipwithQueenMary,University of London, were told in class by their course tutor, as soon as a decision to close the coursewas confirmed. Student education is a priority of theUniversity so students enrolled on the programme were reassured that thiswould not affect the completion of their course and they will continue to receive the highest standard of education for the duration of their degree. There have been no re- dundancies at theUniversity as a result of the decision to close the BA to new applicants.” “TheUniversity has introduced new

humanities courses in conjunctionwith its highly regarded journalism course, replicating elements of the joint BA.” At the time of going to press QM

could not be contacted for further comment.

Jihad:mythandreality ‘Takingback education’



In a bid to halt university funding cuts proposed by PeterMandelson before Christmas, London colleges collaborated at KCL on Saturday 27th February for the ‘Take Back Education’ confer- ence and teach-in.

Organisedchieflyby theSocialistWorker’sParty,


The SOAS lecture series on ‘The contempo- raryMiddle East’ hosted a talk called ‘Jihad: myth and reality’ onFebruary 23rdwithFawaz Gerges,LSEProfessor ofMiddleEastern Pol- itics and International Relations.

Prof. Gerges set out to explore the historical

routes of the idea of ‘Global Jihad’ and place themin the context of radical Islamic activity in the Middle East and North Africa. Gerges claimed that, in classical Islamic scholarship, ‘Jihad’ is not a termthat denotes fanaticism, but rather is similar to theChristian concept of ‘Just War’ theory, in that it is a legitimate struggle against injustice. Itwas not initially amovement

directed against the West, and instead was fo- cused on dislodging corrupt regimes fromstates mostly within North Africa throughout the 1980s andmid-1990s. He alsomaintained that the hijacking of the

term by Osama bin Laden has drastically re- duced support for the movement among many radical youngMuslims, having become so disil- lusioned with the idea of ‘Global Jihad’ that its legitimacy and social support base is currently minimal. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, Gerges insisted, but contrary to popular opinion, the anger felt by many young Muslims at what he called ‘US subordination and domination’ was not enough to become currency for a global epi- demic of ‘jihadist fighters.’

the conference included a number of lectures and tutorials hosted by a variety of influential guests to create ‘a united campaign, not just to save jobs but also to defend education.’Following the announce- ment ofunprecedentedcuts ashighas £2.5bn(or 1/3 of HE funding) and resulting in 14,000 job losses, the conference gave many people the chance to speak out against the proposals. Both staff and stu-

dents attended the event, which was held at the StrandCampus, andincluded sessions on: ‘The cor- porate takeover of our universities’, ‘reclaiming our studentunions, ‘Educationfor liberation’ and‘Chal- lenging Islamophobia.’ Discussions also addressed previousmanagement attacks of 1968, inanattempt to encourage an assessment of previous resistance. The event was attended by speakers including

literary critic Terry Eagleton, poetMichael Rosen, and Jeremy Corbyn,MP for Islington North. Sev- eral lecturers and students from Leeds and Sussex University attended to discuss striking against cuts, after which the president of KCL UCU, JimWol- freys, voiced his opinion on redundancy proposals in theArts andHumanities department.

MP Jeremy Corbyn, academic Terry Eagleton, and poetMichael Rosen spoke out against cuts to education at KCL


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