The news that Swansea University had secured funds for a second campus became clear last night. Editor Elena Cresci has a few worries though…
Last night my Facebook and Twitter feed saw the breaking of a huge story for Swansea University. Plans for the new campus on Fabian Way have been known for a while now, but only yesterday did the Welsh Assembly Government officially confirm that it would fill the £15 million funding gap the University were missing.
It’s a bold move from the University on any count; the campus will be the first of its kind, linking departments closely with industry giants such as Rolls Royce. However, I can’t help but question the University’s timing.
The Siren has commented in depth on the rise of tuition fees, and I’ve previously written about the cuts facing the Modern Foreign Languages Department on more than one occasion. Universities are clearly facing tough times ahead, as The Welsh Assembly considers merging some of Wales’ Universities. Is now really the best time to pursue the development of a new, hi-tech campus? It’s clear that the University couldn’t afford this on their own. Even with BP offering land and funding, there was still this massive funding gap.
The integral problem here is that the University’s plans are utterly contrary to the proposals made for other departments. It’s difficult to see how the University can reconcile these plans for expansion with the plans to cut the Modern Foreign Languages Department. It’s unfortunate that the development of Swansea University is marred by this clear contradiction.
I can’t help but wonder if the University’s aims are to be rid entirely of the Humanities, focusing solely on the Sciences. This is probably a pessimistic view to take, but interestingly, languages in particular could prove useful for students of the Sciences. In Germany for example, any student wishing to undertake any scientific, mathematical or engineering degree is required to have an excellent competence of English before they leave school. Imagine the benefits for a British Engineering graduate who could speak German!
If Swansea University were to become a centre renowned for its excellence in both the Sciences and the Humanities, then it would be an envious position indeed. Sadly, if these cuts go through while this new campus gets the go ahead, it seems that Swansea University is interested only in what is ‘new’, leaving established departments to crumble.
My worries also lie in the way in which the new campus will change the dynamic that I’ve studied in these past few years. Will students be based on one campus instead of both? We’ve said it before, we love the dynamic of Swansea’s current campus, small it may be. If they are required to travel from one to the other, then will there be some sort of reimbursement for the travel costs? It’s not easy to get to Fabian Way from the Singleton Campus after all.
I wish that I could feel happier that my University is making moves forward, but I have a gut feeling that this is the wrong time for Swansea to commit itself to a new campus.