The University and College Union has urged Durham University to “think again” about proposals to close its social work courses.
It was revealed last week that the university was considering closing two MA social work degree courses once the October 2017 intake graduate in 2019.
The university currently offers two MA courses: the two-year Master of Social Work and the one-year MA in International Social Work and Community Development.
An internal review recommended their closure after highlighting issues with the programmes’ financial viability, and how they fit in with the wider university’s forward plan. The university said the 30 students who graduate from Durham each year “make up a very small proportion of the entrants to the profession from providers of social work training in North East England”.
A final decision will be made on the courses’ future in June. The university only offers postgraduate social work training, at masters and doctorate level.
However, the union, which represents academics, said the courses should not be closed because they were “well-known and highly thought of”.
Jon Bryan, a regional support official for the union, said: “We believe the university must think again and consult properly with all of those who have an input to these courses, including students, staff, employers and others in the social care profession.”
A petition launched by students opposing the courses’ closure has gathered more than 450 signatures.
Bryan added: “The university has not yet begun formal consultation with the trade unions about the job implications of their proposal. We will be looking for a commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies and to protect the pay and conditions of any staff affected.”
Professor Tim Clark, who led the strategic review that proposed closing the courses, said the recommendation was made in line with the university’s strategy of focusing on investing in research, education and the wider student experience.
“The strategy has underpinned our review, which has also taken into account the provision of other social work training programmes in North East England, the launching of new ‘fast-track’ schemes and our need to prioritise investment in our internationally leading research in the social sciences,” Clark said.