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UCU condemns decision by Kingston University to suspend recruitment to its Politics, International Relations and Human Rights undergraduate courses

30 March 2021 | last updated: 12 April 2021

UCU has today condemned Kingston University's decision to suspend recruitment its Politics, International Relations and Human Rights undergraduate courses for its 2021 intake.

UCU said it is concerned that the suspension could eventually result in the courses closing altogether with inevitable knock-on effects on students and staff, risking jobs in the department and damaging the learning prospects of politically engaged students. This in a time of increased political engagement amongst students and the wider community in terms of Black Lives Matter, the Me Too movement, LGBTQ+ issues and the climate crisis agenda.

The decision is opposed by students at the university who are campaigning against threats to the politics department.

The union is calling for the decision to be reversed and for the university to guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies of staff currently teaching the course. The union has said that instead of suspending recruitment, Kingston should wait until student numbers are clearer and the university has a better idea of how many offers are actually accepted. In particular, such drastic decisions are particularly short-sighted whilst the HE environment recovers from dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

UCU also condemned the lack of proper consultation with staff in the Politics department and called for the university's business case to be made public.

Kingston UCU branch chair, Nicholas Freestone said: 'Kingston University should reverse the decision to suspect recruitment to its Politics, International Relations and Human Rights courses and ensure future students can continue to enrol. Suspending recruitment will impact on the university's reputation and is opposed by both staff and students.

'The university must properly consult with the staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure a high-quality education for its students. Now is not the moment to increase uncertainty for academic staff at an already stressful time when the emphasis should be on protecting everyone's mental health and wellbeing.'

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