In a statement issued by Helen Coleman, head of PR at RHUL, it has been revealed that proposals to close the Classics Department at the university have been drastically revised.
The original proposals included, in brief: the withdrawing of undergraduate degrees in Classics and Latin whilst retaining degrees in Classical Studies and Ancient History; moving Philosophy to Politics and International Relations; and merging the department with History, with the loss of six staff posts.
However, the plans now read very differently. The statement claimed that “The College is convinced by arguments that Classics is a pivotal subject for the understanding of western civilisation, an important part of the history of Bedford and Holloway Colleges and has significant overlap with the modules taught within Classical Studies and Ancient History.” As a result, the BA Classics will not be abolished.
Although this is a significant breakthrough for all of those strongly opposed to the cuts, some suggestions remain unchanged. The BA Latin will still be discontinued, Philosophy will still be moving to join the Politics and International Relations Department and the university is still recommending that a currently shared post is transferred completely to the English Department. The planned merger with history will proceed, but the resulting body will be called the ‘School of History and Classics’ in order to “recognise the equal standing of both parties and to reflect that they have been joined to form a School, rather than merged into one Department.”
In addition, the number of staff will still be reduced, but by four instead of six. The university stated: “We would hope to achieve this through voluntary severance, job shares or redeployment, and we will work hard with staff to avoid any compulsory redundancy if at all possible.”
There is also still continuing debate about the number of students. The department currently needs twice the number of students to break even. Proposals are complicated by the Government’s own propositions to remove AAB students from student control numbers, which means that the Department could potentially recruit an unlimited number of AAB students, but with a smaller overall target for non-AAB students. As the Department has performed below the sector average in AAB numbers over the last few years, there is concern that expansion of the Classics Departments higher in the league tables might reduce Royal Holloway’s AAB count further. However, Ms. Coleman reiterated that: “Government plans mean that student control numbers for non AAB candidates will reduce by 8% anyway, irrespective of our proposals.”
The College Management team will update College Council on their revised proposals at a meeting on Wednesday 5th October. Council will then consider the complete package of updated proposals and plans for implementation once the remaining issues have been resolved, which RHUL hopes will be in time for the Council meeting in late November.