The campaign against Sunderland University’s proposed closure of History, Politics and Modern Languages courses

I mentioned the proposed closure of history courses at Sunderland in Part 2 of my recent blog on the current state of British Black History.

http://historyandsocialaction.blogspot.com/2020/02/reflections-on-state-of-british-black.html

A campaign has been started by the staff and students with the support of the University College Union.  North East Labour History Society has sent a message of support to the UCU has signed the petition and urges all its members and supporters to do the same.

Jon Bryan, University and College Union Regional Support Official, Northern Region, explains.

‘You are probably aware of the changes that have been proposed at The University of Sunderland. You can find information from the University about this here:

https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/more/news/story/announcing-our-career-focused-curriculum-1204.

The local paper covered the story here:

https://www.sunderlandecho.com/education/jobs-risk-university-sunderland-axes-history-politics-and-foreign-language-courses-1372636

This change of direction by the University has not been the subject of consultation with the staff and students. The notion of a “career-focused curriculum” has received much negative comment in the media, including the following: “Sunderland University’s decision is so depressing…like many in the north-east (it) caters to students from the local area. Its repurposing seems to suggest that the study of the humanities should be reserved for the children of the rich.”

(Reference: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/26/no-history-no-languages-the-end-of-humanities-only-deepens-divides)

We have three main concerns about the proposals:

  1. Key stakeholders appear not to have been involved in the University’s change in focus;
  2. There is a detrimental impact on course choices for students and jobs for our members. In both cases, a substantial number of these are local to Sunderland and the surrounding areas;
  3. The affected members believe that the data being quoted externally is inaccurate and misleading.

We wanted to make you aware of what was going on and what the response of the trade unions was to the proposals. Safe to say, we are opposed to both the change in focus, as well as the implications that it has had on courses and jobs. I know only too well the impact that this will have on History as a subject being made available to local students.

If you want to send a message to be passed onto our next branch meeting, we would certainly welcome that (jbryan@ucu.org.uk).

The students have started a petition, which you may wish to circulate: www.tinyurl.com/SavePoliticsandHistory

We would be happy to brief you further should the need arise.’

UCU, J32 The Avenue, Eleventh Avenue North Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 0NJ

0191 48 77 220

jbryan@ucu.org.uk

UCU Facebook: http://www.ucu.org.uk/stayupdated

‘UCU is a campaigning union intent on driving up the standard of working practice and conditions of employment of our members across the FE and HE Sectors. This occasionally means our members face the prospect of taking some form of industrial action. The UCU Fighting Fund helps us all support our members who lose pay during these actions. Please consider making a donation to the UCU Fighting Fund using this link https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund to support members’ campaigns.’

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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