Sheffield Hallam University Suspends English Literature Degree, DecisionCriticized by Experts

Sheffield Hallam University.jpg

Sheffield Hallam University has announced that it is suspending the degree it offers in English literature for the 2023/24 academic year.

The decision, according to lecturer in English Literature at Sheffield Hallam, Mary Peace, comes as a response to the government’s announcement that it will no longer fund degrees where 60 percent of students don’t have a “highly skilled” job within six months.

English lit degree at Sheffield Hallam is being “suspended.” University responding to Government who will no longer fund degrees where 60% students don’t end up in “highly skilled” jobs within 6 months.

— Mary Peace (@maryvpeace) June 25, 2022

The university has been criticized by experts in the field, including the award-winning author Philip Pullman, who in an interview with the Guardian, called the government a “government of barbarians,” adding that without literature, art, music, dance, and drama, people of all ages would suffer mentally and emotionally.

“The study of literature should not be a luxury for a wealthy minority of spoilt and privileged aesthetes, but a spring of precious truth and life that every one of us is entitled to,” Pullman told the newspaper.

Following the announcement, playwright and screenwriter, James Graham, noted that he wouldn’t have become a writer if there wasn’t an art and humanities degree.

They’re cancelling art & humanities degrees at uni where students aren’t in skilled jobs in 6 months. They would have cancelled my drama degree at Hull on that basis. I wouldn’t have become a writer. I wouldn’t have written #Sherwood. Other writers wouldn’t have written theirs.

— James Graham (@mrJamesGraham) June 26, 2022

The university will continue to offer combined English language and literature courses; however, students cannot submit applications for this degree any longer.  

Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), an organization based in the United Kingdom aiming to assist the application process for British universities, indicates that acceptances for studies in English dropped by 32 percent between 2012 and 2021, from 9,480 to 6,435.

“When was it ever more important in our history for young people to be able to manipulate language and to understand how they are manipulated by language and stories,” university lecturer Mary Peace wrote in another Twitter post.

During the 2022 Educate North Awards ceremony, Sheffield Hallam University was named the “University of the Year” for the number of graduates expected to gain quality jobs, among other reasons.

Sheffield Hallam offers scholarships to talented students who seek asylum in the UK, one of the many ways the university remains committed to supporting refugees who are members of its community. The scholarship covers tuition fees, and students also receive a grant which can be used to cover their study expenses.

Lately, following the war in Ukraine, Sheffield Hallam twinned with Kyiv National University of Technologies and Design to provide support to students and academics from Ukraine. The university now aims to establish collaborations in teaching and research, including student and staff mobility.

Thanks to the support it provided to sanctuary seekers to continue studies and research at the institution, Sheffield Hallam University last year was also named a University of Sanctuary.

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