Help save Coventry University’s undergraduate music courses from closure
This petition had 2,394 supporters
Coventry University’s Vice Chancellor, John Latham, and the Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities, Seymour Roworth-Stokes, have decided to close down the BA (Hons) Music Composition, BA (Hons) Music and BA (Hons) Music Performance degree courses. The decision to close the three courses has taken place within months of the University approving the new BA (Hons) Music degree alongside a re-design of the respective Composition and Performance courses.
Coventry University’s three undergraduate music degrees offer students the chance to specialise in composition, performance or general music. These music courses are non-doctrinal which means that students from all musical backgrounds, styles and genres are welcome; classical musicians are encouraged to rub shoulder-to-shoulder with rock musicians, jazz musicians and singer-songwriters, etc. The music facilities, comprising practice rooms, recording studios and teaching spaces, form part of a larger Performing Arts department alongside Dance, Theatre and Music Technology. The music students are therefore part of a larger community of practice within the University and they have the opportunity to collaborate with practitioners from other performing arts disciplines as well as developing skills within their main musical discipline. The music students are also actively encouraged to perform with local music ensembles, choirs and bands and many students and alumni are regularly participating in and around Coventry’s music scene, some internationally.
The decision to close the music courses will have a negative impact upon the learning experience for the current one hundred and twelve Coventry University undergraduate music students, as the courses are phased out by August 2018. By this time, the final year students will be left feeling undervalued by the University, taught by a skeleton staff of two full-time academics and supported by only one full-time technician. These fixed-term staff members will also have to continue supervision for five postgraduate PhD music research students, several of whom are not due to complete their doctoral studies until after the fixed-term staff have been made redundant in 2018.
The Vice Chancellor and the Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities have not satisfactorily addressed the importance of supporting the existing music student body at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Their proposal to run three undergraduate music courses and to continue to supervise PhD researchers under a fixed-term skeleton staffing model is unacceptable and it will not support the students effectively through their respective degree programmes, contrary to page 21 of Coventry University’s Corporate Plan 2021, that states, ‘We will provide all staff and students, whatever their background, with opportunities and support, in order to help them realise their full potential’.
The three BA courses were removed from The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) only days after the music staff were informed and before a proper consultation period had taken place. This is unacceptable behaviour from the senior management of the ‘University of the Year 2015’ and it further contradicts page 21 of the Corporate Plan 2021 that states, ‘[w]e will ensure fairness to both staff and students in all our activities and be committed to supporting and furthering equality in employment, advancement, teaching and attainment’.
The Vice Chancellor and the Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities have not recognised, or celebrated, the existing successes of the INTIME (Interrogations into Music Experimentation) research group, such as the highly successful annual INTIME International Music Symposium held every October. Over the last few years, the INTIME Symposiums have brought world-leading researchers and academics across all areas of music to Coventry University. In October, Ray Lee’s sound art installation ‘Chorus’ came to Coventry University for the INTIME 2015 Symposium and it was featured on television and drew crowds of people to the University Square, from students and staff through to intrigued members of the public.
The closure of the music courses will also impact on future generations of musicians who may otherwise wish to have been given the chance to study music at Coventry University. One argument being used against the continuation of the courses is that the number of students currently sitting A-Level Music has declined from previous years. However, there has been no acknowledgement that many of the current music students have entered their music course at Coventry University with BTEC National Diplomas, A-Level Music Technology, equivalent qualifications or experience, in place of A-Level Music.
Each year, the department hosts a series of free lunchtime concerts that are open to the general public. These well-attended concerts attract a core group of Coventry locals alongside the student body. With the closure of the music courses, these wonderful concerts will also disappear.
On a wider scale, this decision is also detrimental to the people of the City of Coventry and it will impact negatively against the bid for City of Culture 2021. More information about Coventry’s bid for the City of Culture 2021 can be found by following this link < http://www.coventry2021.co.uk/cityofculture/site/index.php >
Removing these three music courses will impact negatively, on a local level, especially upon the next generation of music-makers, composers, performers and music teachers based in and around the city. Both alumni and current students from Coventry University’s music degree programmes, in line with Coventry University’s Corporate Plan 2021, already take an active role in providing music entertainment and culture for the people of Coventry City. This was proved in July 2015 at the Godiva Festival, featuring solo acts and bands comprised of current students and alumni. An example includes the band “Rooted ‘n’ Booted”, who were privileged to open up the Festival on the Main Stage on Friday 3rd July: < http://www.godivafestival.com/lineup >
More recently, a graduate of the BA (Hons) Music Composition course has achieved success producing a Coventry Christmas music video that has gone viral < http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/coventry-musicians-christmas-song-goes-10610429 >
Coventry University music students continue to share their music in the city. On 9th December 2015, current Coventry University music students entertained a packed audience in Warwick Road’s United Reform Church, Coventry, showcasing a diverse range of music styles, from classical choral music, to chamber ensembles, to dance band music to rock music. A smaller taster of this showcase is available from the following link < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UOPe6hTP7U >
Page 20 of Coventry University’s Corporate Plan 2021 states that ‘Social responsibility will be embedded in all of our successes. The University will use its knowledge and expertise to contribute to the social and economic success of the local, national and international community’. The decision to close down the music courses will not only be counterproductive to the University’s 2021 commitment to contribute to the social success of the local community, but it will also be counterproductive to the bid for City of Culture 2021.
Please, if you can, share the petition on social media platforms and encourage your friends and colleagues to sign to help keep the music courses alive at Coventry University, for both the music-makers of tomorrow and the people of the City of Coventry.
If you are inclined you can also make a complaint regarding the closure of the music courses to Coventry University directly by following this link < http://www.coventry.ac.uk/life-on-campus/the-university/key-information/registry/complaints-and-compliments/?theme=main
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