Students angry at Uni’s music degree axe

Students give the red card to the closure of the music degree
Students give the red card to the closure of the music degree

Students gave the red card to Lancaster University’s decision to stop offering music degrees this year, warning that other courses could be next.

At an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) organised by Lancaster University Student’s Union (LUSU), on Tuesday, 372 students voted in favour of a motion to give LUSU full power to protest against any reduction in degree courses.

The university said that recruitment for the BA (Hons) major and combined music degrees had been suspended but those currently on the course will still be able to complete the degree.

Five staff are at risk of redundancy and there are currently a total of 32 students on the course.

There was an intake of just 12 students onto the music degree course for the 2012 academic year.

A spokeswoman for the university said she was not aware that any other degree schemes were at risk of closure this year.

Jack Smith, a LUSU officer and assistant editor of the Union’s newspaper SCAN, said that entry requirements had increased from Grades BBC in 2007, to ABB in 2012, and funding for music tuition has fallen from £35,000 in 2004 to just £13,000 in 2011, resulting in a lower intake.

He added: “The Music degree scheme at Lancaster was destined to fail due to the university imposing higher entry requirements on it while cutting funding.

Many academics have expressed concern that other degree schemes could be next.

“European Languages applications are down 33 per cent, while History applications are down 49 per cent.

“The EGM was called in response to this in order to provide a robust mandate for the Union to tackle this - and to show the university that students are not going to stand aside while the very fabric of this institution is changed.”

A spokeswoman for Lancaster University, which is ranked as the ninth best university in the country, said: “Several significant investments and alternative approaches have been made by Lancaster over the last decade to seek to stimulate music and attract new applicants to its music degrees during a decline in applications nationally.

“Despite these attempts to revive interest, music as a core single degree has proved unsustainable at Lancaster, due to lack of demand.

“Lancaster recognises the importance of music as a discipline to draw on within the wider arts, and is investing in the arts while retaining disciplinary expertise in music.

“While there will not be a single major degree in music, there will still be teaching in the broad area of music available across Arts degrees at Lancaster.”

The university said it recently appointed three new senior posts in the area of art and design and is going to launch a design degree.

The spokewoman said the university’s goal was to broaden the range of its offerings in the arts, to ensure that Lancaster remains at the forefront of the arts in teaching and research.