Sheffield Hallam University explains English literature degree ‘suspension’ amid criticism

A university in Sheffield has clarified the future of its English literature degree, which is said to be at risk due to a proposed suspension.

Monday, 27th June 2022, 2:34 pm

Sheffield Hallam University has recently come under fire from academics within its institution and beyond as the 'suspension' comes amid pressure from the government to ensure graduates are immediately placed in well-paying jobs.

Dr Mary Peace, a senior lecturer in English literature at Sheffield Hallam, said the degree was being suspended because the university was "responding to the Government, who will no longer fund degrees where 60 per cent of students don't end up in highly-skilled jobs within six months."

She said, in a series of tweets: "And falling recruitment due to lift of cap on student numbers at old universities.

Sheffield Hallam University is said to be planning to suspend its English Literature degree

"We have 'world leading' research and excellent teaching, but we can't compete on culture capital.

"The demise of humanities in the post 92s is cultural vandalism. When was it ever more important in our history for young people to be able to manipulate language and to understand how they are manipulated by language and stories."

Over the past 10 years, interest in humanities subjects has declined. Acceptances in English studies decreased from 10,020 in 2011 to 6,980 in 2020, prompting many academics to call for the government's intervention.

This year, the Office for Students announced measures under which universities in England could be penalised, potentially with fines or limits on student loan funding, if less than 75 per cent of graduates complete their qualification and less than 60 per cent are in professional employment or further study within 15 months of graduating.

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‘No job losses involved’

Sheffield Hallam University, when asked if the suspension was taking place, said a small number of courses are being suspended or closed, which has been communicated to the relevant staff.

Although it did not specify if English literature was affected, the university said it will offer English literature study within its 'broad-based English degree'.

A university spokesperson said: “As a large comprehensive university offering more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, we keep our portfolio of courses under constant review to ensure that they align to the latest demands from students and employers.

“A small number of courses are being suspended or closed, which has been communicated to the relevant staff. These changes are predominantly driven by providing the best possible learning offer in the context of the latest application trends. They do not involve job losses.

“We are proud of all our English courses at Sheffield Hallam and we are looking forward to welcoming cohorts in English literature, English, and creative writing programmes starting in September 2022, all of which we are recruiting for.

“From 2023 we will be offering English literature study within our broad-based English degree, which will allow students to shape their own exploration of the subject across language, literature and creative writing.

“More broadly, we believe that study in the arts and humanities is hugely valuable for our wider society. Graduates in these areas go on to enjoy successful careers and have a real positive impact on our economy, health, wellbeing and education.

"These subjects are a vital part of our offer as a university and we will continue to provide a wide range of arts and humanities courses led by some outstanding teams of academics.”