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November, 2011:

Support the Save UEA Music campaign

We are writing you both to express our deep concern at the proposal to close the School of Music, and also to encourage you to get involved in the campaign to save the department.  This is a matter of concern to UCU as our members’ posts are at risk of redundancy should the proposal to close the School of Music be accepted at Senate on 9th November and Council on 23rd November.  Whilst we accept that UEA will try to redeploy staff in order to avoid individuals finding themselves without future employment, make no mistake – their current posts WILL CEASE TO EXIST, as will the School of Music.

NEW! Read the official MUS staff response to the proposed closure

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

We encourage you to get involved in the Save UEA Music campaign, which has now generated growing support on campus, media attention and the endorsement of Jools Holland, Brian Eno and Lauren Laverne. You can join their Facebook group and follow them on Twitter. Please also sign the petition opposing the closure and encourage others to sign. You can also comment on this article in Times Higher Education.

There is a lobby of the Senate meeting planned on Wednesday, 9 November at 13.30 outside the Registry preceded by a rally in the Square at 12.30 and a march to the Registry (Facebook event here). UCU support this and urge you to come along to show your support for the school of music.  Please let colleagues who are not union members know of this as well.  This is not just a matter of interest to union members!

We also encourage you to write the Vice Chancellor at e.acton@uea.ac.uk and make your views known. If you would like to get more involved, there is a planning meeting to discuss the logistics of Wednesday’s rally and march; it will take place on Monday at 4PM in LCR, Union House.

WHY WE ARE OPPOSED TO CLOSING THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC

The arts are incredibly valuable for what they offer to higher education and to society, in general in terms of the development of critical and creative thinking. They are particularly vulnerable to cuts within a climate where economic value is seen as the only index of worth.

The benefits of the School of Music at UEA extend well beyond the department itself. It is an important resource to students and staff in other departments, including those outside the arts and humanities, contributing to the environment of interdisciplinary research and collaboration which makes UEA so unique. The UEA orchestra and other public programmes are well known and enjoyed by many on campus and within the local community and whilst there is currently a commitment to safeguard these resources we are concerned about their future standing within the music community should the academic standing of the school be removed.

We are troubled that one of the main justifications for the proposal to close the department was its predicted REF rating. If the REF rating were to be accepted as a valid criterion when judging whether departments should be closed, how many schools at UEA can be sure that their future is safe?

We are equally concerned about the timing of the announcements; the news has been a great shock to staff and students, who did not hear about it until very recently.  Other than the Head of School, no colleagues from the school of music were involved in the review process.

The proposal to close the School of Music points to a disturbing view of Higher Education as a “competitive and market-focused environment”, as the Vice-Chancellor put it, where departments can be closed for financial reasons at any time, irrespective of what they offer to UEA and the community, and where we have to continually worry that we could be next.

Is this really the type of university we want?