Late on Monday 26 April, the Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities, Ed Esche, informed staff in Philosophy that the University executive had ‘accepted his recommendation’ to close all Philosophy programmes: undergraduate, postgraduate and
Philosophy is the highest research-rated subject in the University. Building on its grade 5 rating in RAE2001, it was awarded a score of 2.8 on the new RAE scale in 2008, with 65% of its research activity judged ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. It is now widely recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking world. The MA programmes in Philosophy at Middlesex have grown in recent years to become the largest in the UK, with 42 new students admitted in September 2009.
The Dean explained that the decision to terminate recruitment and close the programmes was ’simply financial’, and based on the fact that the University believes that it may be able to generate more revenue if it shifts its resources to other subjects – from ‘Band D’ to ‘Band C’ students.
As you may know, the University currently expects each academic unit to contribute 55% of its gross income to the central administration. As it stands (by the credit count method of calculation), Philosophy and Religious Studies contributes 53%, after the deduction of School admin costs. According to the figures for projected recruitment from admissions (with Philosophy undergraduate applications up 118% for 2010-11), if programmes had remained open, the contribution from Philosophy and Religious Studies would have risen to 59% (with Philosophy’s contribution, considered on its own, at 53%).
In a meeting with Philosophy staff, the Dean acknowledged the excellent research reputation of Philosophy at Middlesex, but said that it made no ‘measurable’ contribution to the University.
Needless to say, we very much regret this decision to terminate Philosophy, and its likely consequences for the School and our University and for the teaching of our subject in the UK.
· Professor Peter Hallward, Programme Leader for the MA programmes in Philosophy,
· Professor Peter Osborne, Director, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy,
· Dr. Stella Sandford, Director of Programmes, Philosophy
Outrage has been expressed by this decision all over the blogosophere. Nick Srnicek at Speculative Heresy puts this situation into perspective, stating that "the Middlesex philosophy department is world-class and possibly the premiere place for English-language continental philosophy. To cut it will be a significant blow to philosophy worldwide." Several sites have already been established to convince administration to overturn this decision, including a Facebook group which has already garnered over 1,500 members.