Bangor University closes chemistry department amid financial pressures

Job losses and the department’s closure is part of the university’s plan to cut £5m

Bangor University has confirmed it will close its chemistry department.

The closure was announced in October 2018 as part of a wider plan to cut £5m.

Jobs in the schools of education and human development, medical sciences, health sciences, and sport, health and exercise sciences will also be lost as the university’s budget comes under increased pressure.

Interim vice-chancellor Prof Graham Upton said: “We will do everything we can to support the staff and students affected. We will also be working with external funders, project partners and companies to complete research projects and studentships.”

£8.5m of cuts were made in 2017, but last year the university announced that it would need to make further savings. A spokesperson at the time said: “Bangor University like many other universities are facing financial pressure including fierce competition in Britain and a significant drop in the population demographic in 18-20-year-olds.”

In 2015/16, 61 students were enrolled on the undergraduate chemistry courses, but that figure has declined and now the department has only 23 first year students.

Gethin Morgan, president of Bangor Welsh Students’ Union, told University Business: “Following this decision, we understand that this may leave students with a number of concerns. We have received assurances from the university that existing students will be able to complete their studies and graduate with the degree they are currently enrolled on.

“Our priority now is to work with the university to ensure minimal disruption to the student experience throughout this process.”

The students’ union Undeb Bangor compiled a report last year responding to the university’s consultation on cuts. The report said: “We feel that our ability to firmly respond to the proposed business case for change was hindered due to the lack of definitive evidence and planning.”

The report recommended a review of higher salaries across the institution (particularly those over £100,000), high expenses claims and the university’s marketing strategy.

In their opening statement, the students’ union said: “Undeb Bangor believe that serious questions need to be asked as to why recruitment to the university has fallen despite predictions that this would not be the case.”

It blamed low recruitment on the university’s poor marketing strategy.

Got a news story for UB? Contact James Higgins on 0117 300 5526

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