Federation Uni scraps Arts Degree

Federation University will cut its Bachelor of Arts degree from next year. The university’s Education, Arts and Community Dean says declining enrolments have made the program unviable. The National Tertiary Education Union says only the rich can afford to earn an arts degree at a “sandstone university”

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has condemned Federation University’s devastating decision to scrap its Bachelor of Arts degree.

Correspondence from the Executive Dean of Education, Arts and Community, Clare McLachlan, confirms the news.

“The Bachelor of Arts has had declining enrolments for many years [67 per cent since 2018], undoubtedly exacerbated by the [Coalition government’s] Jobs Ready Package and the steep increase in the cost of an arts degree, along with other factors, and the current enrolments are not sustainable,” Clare McLachlan said.

But NTEU says the university failed to consult with the Union, staff or students before making an announcement on Wednesday that the BA program will close at all locations from 2023.

Hard-working and dedicated staff are facing redundancies, following on from years of cuts which have led to other job losses.

NTEU Victorian Assistant Secretary Sarah Roberts said an Arts degree was a critical part of what universities must offer.

“This is a demoralising day for humanities in Victoria,” Sarah Roberts said.

“It is a hammer blow for students who want to live regionally and study arts.

“There’s no underestimating how important arts graduates are to society. The critical thinking skills and breadth of knowledge students are equipped with make our nation stronger. 

“An arts degree must be a bedrock offering for all universities. Federation University management needs to factor the costs of running its BA program into its business model, just as other universities do. The BA program needs investment and support, and urgently.” 

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Cross has been quoted by the ABC as saying the university had seen its third consecutive year of declining enrolments in the course.

“As part of our plan to be strong and sustainable, we regularly review our programs and courses to ensure they meet student and industry needs and remain viable to operate,” she said.

“We are working with three impacted employees and the union in good faith, and we will redeploy staff where possible,” Professor Cross said.

 Also read: Melbourne offers most expensive school education in Australia

Federation University Branch President Mathew Abbott urged the Federal and Victorian governments to stop this savage cut.

“Regional university staff and students deserve access to this core program, and without having to leave their communities and move to metropolitan areas,” Mathew Abbott said.

“We need an urgent intervention with emergency funding to save this key pillar of regional higher education. Rogue Vice Chancellors making destructive and shortsighted decisions need to be reigned in by governments. 

“That would send a clear message that a Bachelor of Arts is a non-negotiable offering for all universities.”

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