Oxford Brookes staff are “devastated and in shock” after the university announced the forthcoming closure of its music and maths departments along with a reduction of academic staff numbers.

The two courses will not take any new applicants in the next academic year and will begin a period of ‘teach out’.

This means there will be a staggered exit of staff members before final closure in due course when all students have graduated. 

thisisoxfordshire: Oxford Brookes UniversityOxford Brookes University

The university is also proposing to reduce salaried academic staff numbers across several programmes including anthropology, English and creative writing, history, film and architecture.

It comes after the university invested in a huge £130m programme of refurbishment works at the campus in 2016 planned over 10 years.

The university's website also states that £1.6m has recently been spent on the Wheatley campus including "enhancing the library and social learning spaces" as well as adding a gym and student lounge.

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Dr Barbara Eichner, a reader in music at the university said: “We are all devastated and in shock. Music as a subject has been under pressure nationwide.

"It hasn’t been an easy situation in the last few years with the pandemic.

“We’ve just had the new building go up where we could have had a proper performance space for the first time.

"It’s sad to think there won’t be any students making music in there.

“We were trying to strengthen our ties to local schools too, and we were developing a suite of music programmes to strengthen our offering at Brookes.”

The university claims to have proposed the closures of the departments for a number of reasons, including declining student numbers enrolling on the programmes.

Speaking about staff reductions across the board, a spokesman for the university said: “Like many institutions across the sector, the university is experiencing increasing financial challenges due to a range of external factors, such as inflation, flat student fees for UK undergraduates for over a decade, and increases in staff pay and employer pension contributions.

“As a result, the university has taken the difficult decision to reduce staff posts in some specific academic areas, and to make other, pay-related staff cost savings across the university.

“We would like to emphasise that redundancy is, and will always be, our last resort.

“We remain committed to all of our current students, and will ensure that changes to staffing do not interfere with our students continuing and completing successfully their programme of study.”

The university said the consultation period with staff will run from November 14 to December 13.

The implementation of the new structure is forecasted to be April 2024.

MP for Oxford East Anneliese Dodds said: “I was really concerned to hear about the closure of both mathematics and music at Oxford Brookes University.

“Please can I take this opportunity to urge the university to consider the impact of this on staff in both subject areas, for whom this must be a very worrying time.”

thisisoxfordshire: MP Anneliese DoddsMP Anneliese Dodds

The music course at the university has been open for more than four decades.

Dr Eichner concluded her remarks by saying: “These closures will make the whole community poorer.”

 

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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1