Cuts threaten survival of Bristol's Deaf Studies unit

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The internationally renowned Deaf Studies department at Bristol University faces closure within two years after a 75 per cent budget cut was announced by bosses.

The Centre for Deaf Studies (CDS) has been a trailblazer for deaf studies and sign language since opening more than 30 years ago and produces around 20 per cent of the country's new interpreters every year.

While Bristol University says there is no proposal to shut the whole centre, staff say the massive cuts announced earlier this month as part of £15m of savings university-wide, would make it impossible for it to continue. Campaigners also accuse the university of failing to honour its legal duty to consult the wider community, including deaf people across the country, about its plans. The university rejects the allegation and says the course does not fit with its academic ambitions, and nor is it universally popular with students. More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition against the proposed cuts.

Sally Hunt, the University and College Union general secretary, said: "Losing these bodies of knowledge is incredibly short-sighted, as once they are gone they are virtually impossible to replace."