The University of Newcastle says “the current levels of staffing in the humanities disciplines simply cannot be sustained.”
The new BA structure is approved at the University of Newcastle. As the university told CMM last month, it is “a more contemporary approach to liberal arts … that is responsive to student demand, graduate employability, research priorities and social innovation. (CMM September 11).
But Newcastle watchers warn this means independent philosophy courses are gone and that there is less ancient history and classics, with two of four teaching positions going.
Some suggest the cuts are caused by the cost of the university’s ambitious development programme in the Newcastle CBD, others argue that philosophy had students and was not a drain on resources.
However, management responds that universities are “facing a global challenge in the identity of the humanities, a trend we are aiming to tackle head on in our present context.”
The university says; “through our focus on a common set of skills for students, we anticipate more future students encountering aspects of critical inquiry through our new BA core courses.” However, while the content interdisciplinary courses is not decided, “what is clear is that such teaching will not sustain the extant staff profile in philosophy.”
As for classics; “students will still be able to take ancient history courses as part of their BA degrees. The classical languages have been in decline, and Greek has not been taught since 2012, with numbers in Latin very low, but the school will continue to find ways for future students to include the study of these languages by seeking cross-institutional partnerships.”
The university adds 14 of now 15 majors in the BA will continue and “we plan to look at revitalising the majors in future years with no intention to downgrade the humanities. … Our research shows that students are seeking degrees with applied aspects and with a focus on careers in social assistance, human services and social impact and innovation.”
However, management adds, “the current levels of staffing in the humanities disciplines simply cannot be sustained, and we’re looking at ways of becoming smarter about our delivery of courses to students needing flexibility in their programs of study.”