University of Wolverhampton suspends student recruitment to 138 courses

Union bosses say they fear for the future of performing arts as the University of Wolverhampton suspended recruitment to courses.

University of Wolverhampton's main Wolverhampton campus
University of Wolverhampton's main Wolverhampton campus

The University of Wolverhampton is halting recruitment to 138 courses, across all of its campuses, for the next academic year.

Undergraduate and postgraduate courses from “across the university portfolio” are affected. Some of them are performing arts subjects, based at the Walsall campus. Others include some of the craft areas in the School of Arts, taught in the building near Molineux, and some course areas in the sciences.

Bosses say the Covid pandemic has increased its costs, while enrolments have been falling. The university is now embarking on a “robust recovery action plan” which is understood to have included an internal cost-saving exercise.

Staff are also being offered voluntary severance payments under a “mutually agreed resignation scheme”.

The university’s interim vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Campbell, said: “We have been assessing subject areas using information such as enrolment and application data. This evidence-based review means we are looking to consolidate some areas and are suspending recruitment of new students on some courses.

“In the majority of cases, we are offering alternatives for applicants looking to join in September 2022. Current students on these courses will be taught as normal.”

The university's branch of the University and College Union said it will affect students applying for courses at the University of Wolverhampton School of Performing Arts (SoPA).

The union said: “SoPA are heartbroken for their students: we’re deeply concerned for the future of performing arts in the West Midlands.”

The University of Wolverhampton is facing a very challenging financial landscape, bosses said and full details of which courses will have student recruitment suspended have not yet been given.

Professor Campbell said the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly increased costs to the university while enrolments have been falling.

He said: “This has been compounded by difficulties around overseas travel impacting international students during the pandemic. The reduction in student income, combined with increases in pay and non-pay costs, including pension costs, alongside the impact of the pandemic, means the university is facing a very challenging financial landscape and a significant deficit in the current financial year.

“We are embarking on a robust recovery action plan which has included an internal cost-saving exercise. We have also announced a mutually agreed resignation scheme, which is a recognised process through which an individual employee, in agreement with their employer, chooses to leave their employment in return for a compensation payment.”

The university’s branch of the University and College Union said it will affect students applying for courses at the University of Wolverhampton School of Performing Arts. Many of those courses are based at the Walsall campus – home to the 200-seat Black Box Theatre and the Performance Hub. The site boasts studios, rehearsal rooms and recording studios.

In a statement on social media, the trade union said: “SoPA’s students are largely from the West Midlands (65 per cent) and largely first-generation university students (70 per cent). Their education in the performing arts ripples out into the local community and the wider industries. Courses will be immediately closed to recruitment, we have been told this is nominally for a one year period, but this is being carried out in tandem with large scale ‘mutually agreed resignation’ schemes with compulsory redundancies likely.”

The union said it was aware of 47 courses being ‘paused’ across drama and acting, dance, musical theatre, music, audio technology and digital production arts.

It adds: “Current students will continue to be taught ‘out’.”

Students can contact the University of Wolverhampton on 01902 323505.

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