Dozens of Oxford Brookes students, staff and union members gathered on campus to protest the university’s planned course closures and staff cuts yesterday.

The crowd of roughly 50 filled the university’s front quad, leading up to the John Henry Brookes building, with chants of “save our lecturers,” punctuated by student, university and college union member speeches.

thisisoxfordshire: Oxford Brookes students protest course closures and staff cutsOxford Brookes students protest course closures and staff cuts (Image: Matthew Norman)

Students from several disciplines showed up with cardboard signs etched with messages such as ‘save music’, ‘save maths’ and ‘save anthropology'.

READ MORE: 48 staff at risk amid course closures

Rosa Lynch, a third year English and Creative Writing student, told the crowd she had planned to do a Masters in her subject, but feels it might be a bad decision now.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, she said: “I’m devastated. My plan was to stay here for my Masters but that doesn’t feel right now that I realise the university doesn’t seem to care about the humanities, and my values.

thisisoxfordshire: Rosa Lynch, third year English and creative writing student at Oxford BrookesRosa Lynch, third year English and creative writing student at Oxford Brookes (Image: Matthew Norman)

“I’m gutted for the staff. They are incredible teachers. I can see how affected they are by the news. It’s such a callous decision.”

Ms Lynch claims to have experienced homophobia from other students in her first year, and points to her lecturers as being very supportive during that time.

She said: “They were the people who stood up for me. My experience here has been saved by my lecturers here.”

Organiser Wojciech Yuri Lewinski, 26, a fourth-year Japanese studies student, led the crowd in their chants.

He told the Oxford Mail: “There’s no real reason to make these cuts. Brookes is being treated like a business.

thisisoxfordshire: Wojciech Yuri Lewinski, fourth-year Japanese studies student at Oxford BrookesWojciech Yuri Lewinski, fourth-year Japanese studies student at Oxford Brookes (Image: Matthew Norman)

“The courses that ‘aren’t working’ are being cut just as the underperforming departments of a business would be.

“As an academic institution pursuing scholarly knowledge the focus should be on supporting all lecturers and students to produce their best work.

“Our lecturers are not expendable. They’re not a commodity.”

Andy Kilmister, university and college union delegate to Oxford and district trades council agreed with Mr Lewinski.

thisisoxfordshire: Andy Kilmister from Oxford Brookes branch of University and College UnionAndy Kilmister from Oxford Brookes branch of University and College Union (Image: Matthew Norman)

He said: “Our position is there is no case for job losses. We’re in accord with the students. We’re very happy they’re protesting here today.”

The university announced earlier this month that it will be closing its maths and music courses, as well as reducing staff numbers across several subjects, including English and creative writing, anthropology, history, architecture and film.

A spokesman for Oxford Brookes said: “The proposal to reduce academic staff numbers in these five academic programmes means that a total of 48 staff are at risk, with a view to around 20 posts being redundant.”

The consultation period with staff will run from November 14 to January 17 2024.

 

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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