McCusker letter

20th May 2010

To whom it may concern

I write in despair at the news of the planned closure of Philosophy in Middlesex. It is not an understatement to say that this decision has sent shockwaves through the academic community more generally, given the calibre of the department and the niche that it served in terms of Continental Philosophy. I have been following with interest the actions taken by the student body, which is testament to the high quality of the student experience in Philosophy, and their sense of loyalty to their subject and academic staff. Moreover, the reaction more broadly in the media testifies to the importance of the unit both nationally and internationally.

As an academic working in Queen’s University Belfast, a university which has itself taken fairly brutal measures over recent years in terms of departmental closures, I am horribly familiar with the agenda of management in Higher Education, and of its incompatibility with the needs of students and lecturing staff. However, even in the current climate, the decision to close Philosophy appears particularly egregious, given the exceptional research profile of academics in the department, and the healthy postgraduate numbers. In my own university, brutal intervention is frequently justified on the grounds of perceived weakness in either student numbers, research performance or grant income. In some cases, to the delight of the powers that be, these factors coincide. That this is so strikingly not the case for Philosophy, a stellar unit in research terms, and one with extremely healthy postgraduate numbers and income, begs the question, what does such a department have to do to ensure its own survival? If this is considered an unviable unit, then these are indeed worrying times to be involved in the Arts and Humanities.

I would urge you to reconsider this decision.

Maeve McCusker
Dr Maeve McCusker

Senior Lecturer, French Studies

School of Languages Literatures and Performing Arts

Queen’s University Belfast

Belfast BT7 1NN

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