Two arts courses to be cut

22:36, May 30 2012
Andy Pratt
HARD DECISION: Andy Pratt, right, speaks at a meeting of the Canterbury University council about the fate of the university's arts programmes.

Two Canterbury University arts programmes will stay but two other courses will be dumped.

After a three-hour debate and passionate pleas from staff and students, the university council last night decided to retain theatre and film studies by nine votes to eight and the cultural studies programme by eight votes to seven.

The decisions were met with cries of joy from the packed public gallery.

However, the American Studies programme lost its fight to remain after a tie in which Chancellor John Wood use his casting vote to ensure the course was stopped.

Four fulltime equivalent staff and 24 fulltime equivalent students will be affected by the closure.

The council also decided to stop its operations research course within its management science programme, which would affect up to three fulltime equivalent staff and more than 130 fulltime equivalent students.

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Before the vote, Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr said it was "simply implausible" for staff to suggest that ceasing to offer American Studies was going to mean the end of the College of Arts at the university.

He said it could not afford to run all the programmes. "We are spread too thin and the pond is not deep enough."

The university is facing unprecedented challenges after the February 2011 earthquake and was forecasting a $20 million loss this financial year. Student numbers have fallen, insurance costs have skyrocketed and repairing its damaged buildings was likely to cost more than $150 million.

Wood said it was vital the university urgently addressed its financial situation.

Council member Peter Ballantyne said the university had to get its finances in order.

Several council members expressed concern about the information provided by management surrounding the financial case to get rid of the departments.

Many questioned a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that outlined the financial benefit of canning the courses.

Council member Andy Pratt said he accepted that the university needed to make cuts, but he found some of the information and figures provided difficult to grasp.

Fellow member Sacha McMeeking said she did not believe she had been given the necessary information to be able to make a decision.

Student group You are UC member Emma Johnston criticised the lack of consultation with students.

"Students are the most valuable marketing tool this university has and students are losing faith in this institution," she said.

"Students are angry, sad and nervous. Students feel undervalued and disrespected."

The Press