Save Politics and History @ Sunderland University.

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History, Politics and Languages ​​degrees are being closed down at Sunderland University. The powers that be have decided to focus upon a "career focused" and "professions-facing" curriculum. This devalues ​​the academic standing of Humanities subjects overall, with this insinuation that they are of no value in a modern workforce. This attitude had no prevalence in the subject prospectuses when any student currently studying, especially those who joined the program just a short few months ago in October 2019, committed themselves to just under £ 30,000 of future student debt to graduate these programs. Sunderland University were only too happy to take the money for degrees which they themselves do not value.

It's always been a small program which served local students, many of whom were the first in their families to go to university. The academics have done an exceptional job to create educational opportunities by offering exceptional support for mature and working-class students. The university campus is just opposite Monkwearmouth Priory where the "Father of English History", the Venerable Bede, resided, displaying a cruel irony from the university executive who, I presume, have made this decision, disrespecting his scholarly legacy. Academics in History have made excellent community outreach contributions to local culture, like the fantastic work on Sunderland's first female MP, Marion Phillips, achieving a Blue Heritage plaque status for her works with the women's suffrage movement. There have, also, been many public lectures on local-born John Lilburne, the radical thinker who coined the term "freeborn rights". Now there will be no opportunities for local students to engage with their past, nor their political present or shape their international outlook by learning a foreign language. Additionally the longstanding work on local mining communities, including the archives of the Durham Miners, the NEEMARC Archive, at Sunderland was one of the few places where this important bit of North East History was taught. 

It is worrying, as a current student of Politics and History at the University, what message this sends out to local teenagers currently considering their options and to those who proactively desire the skills these types of subjects encourage. Critical thinking, evaluation and rational argumentation is of no value. Their local history is of no value. Their culture is of no value. This decision is educational and social vandalism by an institution who should nurture all the skills and proclivities that local people and beyond have. Or is the message one that working class kids are only worth vocational, technical choices when it comes to their future careers and lives, disregarding current talent and limiting choice for those who need to remain at home while studying?

Please reconsider this position. Despite what the local press and the university say these courses are economically viable and valuable for the university, the city and the people of Sunderland.  Sunderland bid for City of Culture status in 2021, albeit unsuccessfully.  Is it any wonder when an institution of such import as the university decides to degrade and erode the culture of the entire northern region with this short-sighted and defeatist decision.