Saturday, 21 March 2009

University Council Votes to Close SHSC

Reading University's Council has voted to close it's School of Health and Social Care.

The decision is reported to have been made with 23 votes in favour of the proposal, 4 against and 1 abstention.

The news comes as a blow to activists who have mounted a vigorous campaign to save the facility which united staff, students, professionals, local residents, borough councillors and which attracted widespread support against the unpopular move.

The British Association of Social Workers offered a stark warning about how the future of the profession will be affected by the closure, already suffering from a lack of adequate training in what is a highly sensitive area. Numerous local authorities have been hit by scandal as the the pool of proficient social workers has not been able to fulfill needs and this situation is only expected to worsen.

The school has about 350 students enrolled on courses, graduating 65 new social workers each year, in addition to providing a high-level education for nurses and counsellors.

The school has closed its doors to new registrations and will now set up a restructuring committee and transition management group.

LibDem Councillor, Daisy Benson, who proposed a motion opposing the closure which gained all-party support, writes her view of the story here.

She describes the decision as 'arrogant and illogical', explaining that the decision contravenes the University's strategic plan by talking up its responsibility to staff and students while ignoring its statutory responsibility to competent economic management and to serve community interests.

SHSC administrators have flatly denied there is a financial case for the closure, pointing out that the school is profitable overall and actually provides sizable contributions to the University's balance sheet.

However the University of Reading remains under financial pressure after a 4% reduction in grant funding from HEFCE*.

Meanwhile it is also reported that University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Gordon Marshall, who oversees and directs policy at the institution, received an inflation-busting 8% increase to his personal salary to £217,513 pa.

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*The HEFCE grant allocation formula stresses research funding. Reading's funding reduction stems from a similar decision to close the internationally-renowned physics department, which had a specialisation in research.

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Update: Reading Chronicle provides a unique insight - into the depth and bredth of it's reporting abilities.

107fm crackles to life.

Heart arrives, late on the scene.

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