Unlike previous years, 2016 has been a tough one for Queen’s University Belfast, as plans to cut course programmes in Sociology and Anthropology have been resisted by an alliance of staff and students.
Undeterred by the decision to close the BA Sociology programme last month, the ‘Take Back Queen’s’ campaign held rallies and garnered opposition to the plans and yesterday, after a meeting of the QUB Senate body the campaign paid off, with plans to close both Sociology and Anthropology courses reversed. A decisive victory for students and staff alike at the beginning of the academic year.
The decision to reverse planned closures was welcomed by Queen’s UCU President Dr Fabian Schuppert, who was “delighted” with the decision. Dr Schuppert went on to warn that it remains to be seen how “certain [as of yet] unidentifiable reforms” will be implemented within the two course programmes which were previously slated to be axed.
Whereas the UCU statement is jubilant yet vigilant after the Senate decision, the ‘Take Back Queen’s’ statement is much more confident. The campaign calls the decision an “historic victory for the Students’ Union and [its] allies in staff Unions” and calls upon students at the University to get involved in the campaign.
The statement goes on to describe the campaign as the beginning of “a broader alliance” between the Students’ Union, the UCU and others. After knocking Queen’s back on its plans not just once, but twice; the ‘Take Back Queen’s’ campaign has clearly came up with a strategy that could be emulated at Further and Higher Education Institutions across the North. After a series of very public decisions to cut language courses, Ulster University must be paying attention with a certain unease.
It remains to be seen what the next objective is for the campaign at Queen’s following this victory, but we can be certain that this victory has inspired confidence in others who are facing similar prospects.
To paraphrase former Union leader Bob Crow “if you don’t fight, you will lose. But if you do fight, you might win”