Your editorial on the threat to the arts and humanities (29 June) hits the nail on the head in its analysis of what’s wrong with both government and university policy. However, while it discusses Sheffield Hallam University closing its English literature course, it does not mention the greatest act of cultural and human vandalism currently taking place. This is happening at the University of Roehampton, where 226 academics have been told their jobs no longer exist, and a huge fire-and-rehire programme has been rolled out. The dozen or so programmes being axed and the vast number being cut back are some of the best-performing in the country.
The former Roehampton chancellor Jacqueline Wilson’s most famous character, Tracey Beaker, would be a typical working-class humanities student at Roehampton, possibly studying creative writing. And yet the creative writing BA is one of many that are being closed. It’s a profitable and successful course. Where will the thousands of Tracey Beakers go now that the assault on working-class universities and the range of opportunities they provide is taking place all over the country?
Dr Tim Atkins
New Malden, London
We at Sheffield Hallam University agree that English is central to well-rounded education provision, and a key element of a thriving culture and society. The study of literature will remain at the heart of our BA English degree, alongside the study of language and creative writing. We’re confident that our refreshed English programme will enable students to have the maximum possible choice in shaping their exploration of the subject, guided by our team of world-leading researchers.
Dr Susan Anderson
Head of English, Sheffield Hallam University