Concern is growing over the fate of the humanities in higher education after Sheffield Hallam University announced it would suspend its English literature degree.
A university spokesperson confirmed that English literature was among a small number of suspended or closed courses, but said the changes would not lead to job losses.
A number of universities have made cuts to arts and humanities provision after a government crackdown on what ministers say are “low value” courses.
Under new rules, universities could face penalties if less than 75% of undergraduate students complete their courses and less than 60% work in professional jobs or study for another degree within 15 months of graduation. graduation.
The universities of Roehampton and Wolverhampton have also offered cuts, and the University and College Union said jobs were also at risk at De Montfort and Huddersfield.
A Sheffield Hallam spokesperson said: “As a large comprehensive university offering over 600 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, we are constantly monitoring our course portfolio to ensure they match the latest student demands and employers.
“Whoever students choose to study at Sheffield Hallam, they will graduate with the confidence and skills to tackle real-world problems, having had the chance to gain work experience each year. of the study program they have chosen.”
Dr Mary Peace, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam specializing in 18th century literature, expressed her dismay at the decision on social media.
“The English Diploma at Sheffield Hallam is ‘on hold’,” she said. tweeted. “The university responds to the government which will no longer fund degrees where 60% [of] students do not end up in “high-skilled” jobs within six months.
“When has it been more important in our history for young people to be able to manipulate language and understand how they are manipulated by language and stories?
“What kind of society will we have if there is no place for people of all social classes and backgrounds to have the opportunity to read and think (or work in a bar for two years trying to write a novel) before getting into compliance with the workplace?
In other Publishshe added: “The disappearance of the humanities in the post-92 [universities] it is cultural vandalism.
Michelle Donelan, Minister for Higher and Further Education, said the government recognizes that all subjects, including arts and humanities, can lead to positive outcomes for students.
But she added: ‘Courses that don’t engage students in work or further education fail both the students who put in their time and effort and the taxpayer who bears a substantial portion of the costs.’