Sheffield Hallam University suspends its English Literature degree, decision criticized by experts

Sheffield Hallam University has announced that it is suspending the degree it offers in English Literature for the 2023/24 academic year.

The decision, according to English literature lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, Mary Peace, comes in response to the government’s announcement that it will no longer fund degrees where 60 per cent of students do not have a “highly qualified” employment within six months.

The university has been criticized by experts in the field, including award-winning author Philip Pullman, who in an interview with the Guardian called the government “a government of barbarians”, adding that without literature, art, music, dance and drama, people of all ages would suffer mentally and emotionally.

“The study of literature should not be a luxury for a wealthy minority of spoiled and privileged aesthetes, but a source of precious truth and life to which each of us is entitled.” Pullman told the newspaper.

Following the announcement, playwright and screenwriter, James Graham, noted that he would not have become a writer had it not been for a degree in arts and humanities.

The university will continue to offer combined English and Literature courses; however, students can no longer submit applications for this degree.

Data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a UK-based organization aiming to help the application process for UK universities, indicates that acceptances for studies in English fell by 32% between 2012 and 2021, from 9,480 to 6,435.

“When was it increasingly important in our history that young people be able to manipulate language and understand how they are manipulated by language and stories”, wrote university lecturer Mary Peace in another post on Twitter.

At the 2022 Educate North Awards Ceremony, Sheffield Hallam University was named “University of the Year” for the number of graduates likely to access quality jobs, among other reasons.

Sheffield Hallam offers scholarships to talented students seeking asylum in the UK, one of the many ways the university remains committed to supporting refugees who are members of its community. The scholarship covers tuition fees and students also receive a scholarship which can be used to cover their study costs.

Recently, after the war in Ukraine, Sheffield Hallam has twinned with Kyiv National University of Technology and Design to provide support to Ukrainian students and scholars. The university now aims to establish collaborations in teaching and research, including student and staff mobility.

Thanks to the support it has provided to Sanctuary seekers to continue their studies and research at the institution, Sheffield Hallam University was also named a Sanctuary University last year.

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