Niamh McGovern, Editor
Queen’s University Belfast has discussed plans to merge schools within the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty, the Gown has learned from a University source. Consequently, due to austerity measures set by the UK government, and a 2% cut to the Department for Learning and Education, the University has made preliminary plans to merge seven schools; including the Schools of English, History, Drama, Anthropology, Sociology, Modern Languages and Politics, Philosophy and International Studies (PISP), into two larger schools.
To spread available funding between each individual school, these seven schools will merge to form a faculty of Social Sciences and a faculty of Humanities and Arts. The School of Law is not planned to be included in this and will remain a school in its own right, with new headquarters planned to open next year.
Funding within each school is currently available for educational use, research and bursary subsidies for Postgraduate students. Consultation of these plans is scheduled for February, prior to a final plan which will be brought before Senate next April.
Other changes discussed include new regulations for Great British students, who will be offered Unconditional Offers to Queen’s, or offered a Conditional Offer of A-level results at BBB or above. Grade boundaries for Northern Irish students will remain at ABB for Single honours and the grade boundary of BBB for joint honours will be raised to ABB. If changes occur, it is likely international students will be awarded similar considerations to that of GB students.
In September, the University cut 236 jobs and 290 student places in response to the £8m subsidy cut received by the Department of Education and Learning (DEL) in Northern Ireland, planning to cut a total of 1,100 places in the next two years. If plans for two merger faculties are passed, each faculty could receive a cut in educational and administrative staff.
In 2013-14, Queen’s total income was £298.4m, an increase of 4.3% from the previous academic year. As part of the Vision 2020 plan, in their latest Financial Review, the university have stated “Delivering these priorities requires the continuous enhancement and development of our people, services and infrastructure.”
Queen’s have responded to the changes with the following statement; “The University has established a Strategic Planning Group, to determine the future size and shape of the institution in the context of Vision 2020. This work is ongoing and it is expected that recommendations will be presented to Senate, the Governing Body, during the course of this academic year.”