University of Leicester under fire over cuts to English department

Written by Toby Cray

The University of Leicester has faced widespread criticism over the cuts to the English department, that were announced to staff in an email, three hours into the first day of term.

This has included criticism from within the university, as Dr Anne Marie D’Arcy, an Associate Professor in the English department, tweeted:

 “The behaviour of the people managing this process beggars belief … utterly shameful.”

The English department is facing cuts as part of the university’s disinvestment proposals. The cuts will put jobs at risk, and they target modules within the department, including English language, medieval, and early modern literature.

Replying to a tweet from a former student Dr D’Arcy responded that it is “hard to believe that the University of Leicester could reach this utterly incomprehensible nadir since your time as a postgrad in the city.”

A University of Leicester spokesman responded to this criticism by stating: “Our ambition is to deliver a rounded and meaningful education for our students – one that embraces and honours our history but also contemporary thought, creating independent thinkers with a sense of purpose.

“English at Leicester continues to offer students a broad programme of learning at undergraduate level, including a chronological span of English Literature and opportunities for creative writing.”

Adding: “No final decisions have been made about individual courses, including medieval literature. The proposed changes are currently being discussed with staff and students.”

The President of UoL English society, Lucy Colledge, has responded to the cuts by stating: “In this ‘strive for excellence’, management are willing to sacrifice the heart of these courses.”

Hannah Westwood (3rd year, American studies, and English) added to this by saying:

“I can’t understand how the university can continue to claim they offer a comprehensive English degree course by ceasing to teach Medieval literature and English Language.”

Former students have hit out at the proposed redundancies with Dr Hollie Morgan posting: “I am who I am because of the people @uniofleicester plan to make redundant.”

Rory Waterman, former Associate Professor at Leicester, posted: “Throwing staff under the bus is despicable.”

However, Dr D’Arcy is worried that certain media outlets are using this to further their agenda, posting:

“bits of it (the email) have ended up in Russia Today, in the attempt to suggest a Culture War spat, due to its unfortunate, and ill-considered phrasing.”

Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Instagram here: @toby5.c

Image by Roman Kraft, from Unsplash.

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