Students hit by course closure

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The Independent Online
UP TO 300 students are having to change universities because the course on which they started just five weeks ago is to close.

Because of a shortfall in numbers, students in the first and second years at Middlesex University's engineering systems department are to be transferred to other universities by next summer. University lecturers' leaders said the decision, which involves 40 staff, was "scandalous" and that students might have a legal case.

A spokeswoman for the university said that although the engineering department had under-recruited last year it had hoped for an improvement this year. "We have tried lots of different ways of attracting students. This year the under- recruitment is 26 per cent. You can't tell the scale of under- recruitment at the start of the year because students are still joining the course. It has only come to light recently how poor the recruitment was."

She said all students were being offered individual interviews to help them to find courses elsewhere."The university believes that it would serve students best by helping them relocate to an active and forward- looking teaching environment. If they are really insistent that they want to stay, we will have to find a way."

Andrew Pakes, president of the National Union of Students, said: "This is taking the idea of an internal market a little too far and treating students like numbers on a balance sheet who can be transferred between institutions. They should allow students to finish their time at the university."