EDUCATION WEEK: Redundancies afoot as computing division is stripped

Anger as university axes promising games course

A respected Games Development & AI course at the University of Wales at Newport is to close, the institution has told Develop.

The course abolishment comes as the university strips out its Division of Computing, with other internal courses set for the axe while teaching staff consider their jobs.

Eric Llewellyn, Academic Leader at the university’s Division of Computing, told Develop that staff had not been explained why the major cuts were underway.

“It’s our programme, but we didn’t actually close it,” he said.

The news comes on the same week that the Department For Education had been handed a major new Skills Review paper – one that effectively argued for the opposite of what is happening at the University of Wales at Newport.

Newport’s Games Development & AI course had deliberately set openings to about 20 students a year. The university wanted to keep the numbers tight for better one-on-one interaction between students and staff.

“Several of our past graduates have set up small games businesses,” said Llewellyn.

“I think these cuts are to do with regionalisation from the Welsh Assembly Government, at least that’s what we’re led to believe. We don’t actually know why these courses are closing, we haven’t been told the full details, and [we believe] we won’t until April.”

Llewellyn said the mood among staff “is not good”.

“In September last year we were informed that the games programme was going to close, so students currently on it were allowed to continue, but there would be no new applicants for the year starting September 2011,” he said.

“That was until December, when we were told that Foundation Degree Computing, BSe Computing and BSe Business Information Systems Management are also going to close in September.”

He said the university will keep its BA Computer Games Design course, “but that’s because it’s an Art, Media and Design course – the cuts are affecting our department of business’ computing division.”

He added: “We’ve taken a very large hit in programmes at the University – we’ve been reduced to two programmes from the seven we had September last year – so there’s a feeling that the job cuts will affect us greatly.”

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