Durham goes ahead with £8 million-plus academic investment plan
(30 September 2003)
The University of Durham is moving forward to implement an £8.7 million re-investment package after it was approved today by the university's governing Council by a vote of 18 - 2.
The Strategic Improvement Programme (SIP) includes a number of adjustments to the original plan announced in June, following consultations with staff and student representatives and the consideration of alternative proposals from departments over the summer.
Steps that will secure and strengthen academic development across some 25 departments involve releasing resources and student places from some areas with relatively lower potential and re-investing them in the very best of the University's teaching and research areas. Re-investment targets include the top Grade 6-star level Geography and 5-star rated Chemistry, History, English, Mathematics and Law.
The University will maximise the effectiveness of its existing engagement with East Asia across many departments, including the Business School, (which, for example, has two major projects in China to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises), Geography, Education, Law and the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies in the Department of Politics. The University will continue the teaching of Chinese and Japanese languages. But the existing Department of East Asian Studies will close.
The vast majority of University staff and students will benefit from the SIP. Less than 5% of academic staff or less than 2% overall and only 6% of students are affected by the departmental restructuring.
Other parts of the programme:
- re-focus Computer Sciences on the increasingly important field of e-science, including distributed systems and theoretical computer science, with significant investment in academic posts
- re-style the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies as a postgraduate operation, and transfer Arabic language teaching at undergraduate degree level to a new arrangement with the Modern Languages School
- consolidate the best elements of the two existing separate degrees in Sport into a single programme at Durham with an annual student intake of 70.
- restructure Sociology & Social Policy to include Sport, Applied Social Studies and Community & Youth Work, and transfer its research and teaching in crime to the Law Department
- pursue discussions for the transfer of Linguistics to the University of Newcastle to create a larger and more viable research and teaching operation for the region.
- phase out the European Studies programme
- transfer the saved investment and student numbers from the areas being phased out to other departments across the University. This is expected to result in the creation of about 40 posts in academic departments to replace those in the subjects to be phased out.
- diversify the range of sources of income, including a campaign linked to the University's 175th anniversary in 2007 to raise £175 million for ongoing development.
The programme is due to be implemented over three to four years. All students, including those just starting in the first year, are being guaranteed the opportunity to complete the degrees for which they are registered.
The key reasons for the restructuring and reinvestment are:
- to achieve a coherent academic portfolio and a sustainable financial position for the University.
- to create the capacity to invest in academic strengths to remain internationally competitive in research and teaching.
- to focus strengths on a narrower range of activities because resources are currently spread too thinly.
The University again stresses that the SIP programme and the consultations were the final stage of extensive discussions and planning by academic departments over 18 months, in the light of changes in the external operating environment. Durham is preparing for the likelihood that public funding is not set to increase.
Department of East Asian Studies:
The University received many representations from graduates and others in support of keeping the existing Department of East Asian Studies. The University is investigating how Chinese and Japanese languages can be taught to a higher level, within degree programmes, than in the original SIP proposals. This will require significant support and new funding which will be explored with HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) and other public or private sources.
But an alternative put forward by DEAS to retain the existing Department was turned down. This was mainly on the grounds that its plans for expansion in the postgraduate market, staffing levels and increased income-generation were not realistic. Disappointingly for the University Executive Committee, DEAS offered little on their plans to enhance regional engagement. Neither was there a likelihood of raising its research profile, within reasonable levels of investment, from the current 4C to 5/5-star level, which is the target level set for the rest of the University.
All media inquiries to:
Keith Seacroft, Head of Public Relations 0191 334 6074.