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University Council meeting – decision on School of Continuing Education – University of Reading

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University Council meeting – decision on School of Continuing Education

Release Date 08 July 2009

Following the decision by Government in September 2007 to withdraw a major stream of higher education funding¹, the Council of the University of Reading has concluded (7 July 2009) that there is no alternative business model which will sustainably fund the public programmes run by the University's School of Continuing Education.

The University is, however, delighted that following constructive discussions in recent months, the University of Oxford has put forward a proposal to deliver its own public programmes at Reading on the University Whiteknights campus from autumn 2010.

In addition, the University of Reading will ensure that all students who are currently enrolled on Certificates of Higher Education (archaeology, English literature, history of art, architecture and history) will have the opportunity to complete their courses by continuing with a limited provision of core and optional modules in 2009/10 and 2010/11². There will also be opportunities for other existing students to join the option modules (short courses) over the next two years.

In the last few months, the University of Reading has also reviewed how it can expand its own events programme to provide a more wide-reaching service to the local community. Last week, the first of a new Café Scientifique season, hosted by the University, took place in Reading town centre. The University will also be continuing the Town Hall lecture series and we are currently considering how we minimise the loss of the Day Schools by expanding the programmes organised by the University Museums and Special Collections Service. The feasibility of running the language programmes currently offered in the School of Continuing Education through the University's Institution Wide Language Programme is also under consideration.

The School of Continuing Education's Professional Management Programme has been transferred into the Henley Business School at the University of Reading and will run unchanged. The University is also currently in discussion with another institution about transferring the Career Studies Programme.

Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, all students currently enrolled on the Career Studies Programme will be supported in the completion of their studies³, either at Reading or an alternative institution.

The University will now set up a Review and Restructuring Committee and Consultation process for staff in the School and is very hopeful that it will be able to avoid compulsory redundancies.

More information at www.reading.ac.uk/conted

ENDS

Further information from Alex Brannen, University of Reading Media Relations Manager, on 0118 378 7388

Notes to editors:

Funding background

¹ In September 2007, the Government announced the withdrawal of funding for students who are studying for a Higher Education qualification that is equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they have already been awarded (ELQ). This impacted most heavily on the University's School of Continuing Education public programmes, which are predominantly 10 week part-time open courses, and the Certificate in Higher Education. Until this year, the University has received funding for over 55% of students enrolling on the open programme courses and for 37% of Certificate students. ELQ funding impacts on anyone with a first degree who wants to pursue a second degree or short courses such as evening classes.

The withdrawal of the funding would mean that the University would need to find £500,000 a year to subsidise the courses. With staff from the School, the University spent a year looking at different business models, including merger with other departments and increasing course fees but had to accept that there was no sustainable financial solution.

Nationally, the Government has withdrawn £100 million in funding for ELQ by 2010/11. Many universities throughout the UK are being forced to withdraw from public programmes.The universities of Bath, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Surrey are among those to have scaled back or shut their lifelong learning provision since 2000.

The Review of the School of Continuing Education recognised the excellence of the provision of teaching throughout the School.

This autumn's classes

² - Students currently enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education will be able to enrol from Monday 3 August 2009 for the autumn term. All other students will be able to enrol from Tuesday 1 September 2009 and priority will be given to Cert CE students who have completed 90 credits or more. Enrolment details will follow. More information at www.reading.ac.uk/conted

³ - within a reasonable time limit

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