The social work course at the University of Leeds is at risk of closure because it does not produce enough research, according to unions.
The University and College Union (UCU), Unite and Unison unions have started a petition urging the new vice-chancellor of the university to save the School of Healthcare from the expected drastic cuts.
A spokesperson for the university admitted there was currently a review process “looking at the academic and financial sustainability” of all the activities within the School of Healthcare.
“No decisions have been made about the future of any of the activities, and we are consulting with our staff and other stakeholders to give everyone the opportunity to input into this review process.”
However, Ann Blair, president of UCU at the university, said their understanding was that any financial dangers to the courses under threat were relatively minor- particularly in the case of social work which had large numbers of students applying.
“It’s about the university applying the same research metrics to every course and discipline. They want proof that each discipline is producing world-class research or will be able to in the next five years. For six of the eight disciplines, including social work, there are serious doubts they can achieve that and so are under threat of closure.
“We would argue that Leeds has a strong practice based school focused on ensuring those who leave are well-trained professionals.”
Blair said she understood the university’s desire to attract more prestige as a result of research but it needed to be a long-term strategy that did not interfere with the ability of the university to turn out high quality professionals needed on the frontline.