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The University of Kent could close most programmes at the School of Music and Fine Art by July 2019

By Louisa Britton

The University of Kent could suspend student recruitment for the School of Music and Fine Art based at the Chatham Historic Dockyard.

The proposals were put to the University’s Council, its highest governing body on Friday November 25.

They have now gone into a period of consultation before a final decision in February 2017 ahead of a July 2019 closure.

Video: School of Music and Fine Art could close

Although the University is proposing to suspend recruiting all students to the school in 2017, they are planning to keep the Music Technology programme and potentially re-launch it at a later date.

But the proposals are clear they would permanently close all other programmes at the Department. These would be Event and Experience, Design, Fine Art, Popular Music and Music.

The School of Music and Fine Art has been running since 2013 and is based at the Medway Campus at the Chatham Historic Dockyard.

Simon Kirchin, Dean of Humanities at the University of Kent
Simon Kirchin, Dean of Humanities at the University of Kent

Simon Kirchin, Dean of Humanities at the University of Kent, said: “The University has put these proposals forward with a great deal of regret and we don’t do this very often.

“Unfortunately we can’t make these programmes sustainable, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a long term sustainable future for our programmes.

“At the moment we are in a period of consultation to close a number of programmes at the School of Music and Fine Art to new entrants.

Kent University could stop recruiting students next year
Kent University could stop recruiting students next year

“We will still carry on teaching our current students as we made a fundamental commitment to them.”

But these proposals have sparked anger among students who believe the University is letting them down.

Earlier in the week, artwork displayed on the Medway campus was vandalised by students from the school.

The elephant sculpture, created by a former MA student from the school, which stands by the Medway building was wrapped in clingfilm and graffitied.

James Burns, 21, second year Music Technology student, said: “I think everyone was shocked, no one saw it coming.

James Burns, 2nd year student on the Music Technology course
James Burns, 2nd year student on the Music Technology course

“I cried, my friends cried and I know lecturers as well took it very hard.

“We’re not going to take this lying down because we feel that the University are giving up on the arts.

These measures would not only affect the students, up to 80 staff members are also facing redundancies.

James said: “If staff are feeling insecure in their job they’re obviously going to want to leave and that’s completely understandable.

The University has entered a period of consultation ahead of a final decision in February
The University has entered a period of consultation ahead of a final decision in February

“That’s the worry from everyone, that we’re going to loose the great staff that we have here.”

Kent University was ranked 7th in the UK for Art in the Guardian University Guide 2017.

And an investment of £5 million went into the school’s Medway development.

In the year up to July 2015, the University of Kent ran a budget surplus of £11.7 million and a total income of £234.7 million.

Simon Kirchin said: “We do try to run a small budget surplus and the annual budget deficit in the school is about a million pounds.

"That is very significant and in the future we won’t be able to carry on cross-subsidising to that degree.

“If you’ve got a school that has a million pound annual deficit that means it’s stopping us investing in lots of those other schools and students, and we can’t carry on doing that, it’s not fair.”

Students are planning a protest at the Canterbury campus on Friday December 2.

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