29 April 2010
Dear Professor Driscoll,
I write in my capacity as current External Examiner for the MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory at your University. I was extremely shocked and dismayed to hear of your extraordinary decision to close all of the Philosophy programmes at your institution. As an Examiner I am well aware of the excellence of Middlesex’s current philosophy provision and of the exceptionally high calibre of students attracted to its MAs. Equally, as an academic working in these areas, I cannot help but be obviously impressed by the remarkable international reputation for scholarly achievement that your staff in philosophy have built up over several years, and in not always easy circumstances. These facts make your decision all the more bewildering and remarkable.
As one of your External Examiners, employed to monitor the academic standards of your institution’s programmes, I have obvious concerns about the effect that this will have upon your current students, but I would also strongly urge you to consider, more generally, the damage that this course of action will do to Middlesex’s international standing in a number of fields. What message does it send out to the rest of the HE world, not to mention your own staff and students, about your future as a serious academic institution – committed, so you claim, to ‘research excellence’ – when you make the decision to shut your own highest research-rated unit, only a year after it has earned the University such impressive funding from the RAE?
I strongly and passionately urge you to reconsider this staggeringly misguided decision on the part of the University Executive.
Dr David Cunningham
(External Examiner, MA Aesthetics and Art Theory)
Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
University of Westminster
32-38 Wells St, London W1T 3UW