Soper letter

30 April 2010

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

I have been astonished and appalled to hear of the abrupt closure of the Philosophy programmes at Middlesex University. It is very difficult to comprehend the thinking behind a decision to axe the most prestigious and highest research-rated subject at the University, or to see what possible academic or economic rationale there can be for it.

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy is one of the most distinguished centres of philosophical scholarship in the UK, and regularly attracts large numbers of talented students with the range and excellence of its MA and PhD offering. It also enjoys a shining international reputation, with many of those attached to it highly respected for their research and in continual demand as speakers around the world.  It has deservedly been rated extremely highly in recent Research Assessment Exercises, and it generates a substantial amount of revenue for the University, currently contributing nearly half of its total income to the University’s central administration.

In the absence of any other clear justification for this move, one has to assume that the target is the subject area itself.  In other words, one has to assume that this belongs with a number of other recent ill-judged and culturally reductive moves designed to cut back on the teaching of critically engaged disciplines such as philosophy, and indeed of the humanities generally in our universities.

If this is so, I call on you, and on your Deputy Vice-Chancellors, and the Dean of the School of Arts and Education, to think again about lending yourselves to such an intellectually alarming and economically counter-productive agenda. I also call on you to do it in the name of the mission of Middlesex University itself to promote autonomous scholarship and research excellence.


Kate Soper
Professor Emeritus in Philosophy, London Metropolitan University, and
Visiting Professor in Philosophy at the University of Brighton.

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