Buckinghamshire New University students fight to save furniture degrees from the chop

Campaigners believe furniture is part of High Wycombe heritage

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The Independent Online

Students at Buckinghamshire New University have launched a social media campaign against the closure of two undergraduate furniture degree courses announced by officials earlier this week.

A Facebook page, titled “In Support of Furniture courses at Bucks New Uni”, has attracted more than 2,000 likes since its creation with campaigners hoping that the pressure will prompt decision-makers to reverse their plans.

BA (Hons) Furniture and FDA Furniture: Conservation, Restoration and Decorative Arts are among the nine courses that have been scrapped by the university following a review into student numbers, cost and investment.

In a statement, the institution said that the decision had not been taken lightly, but that it was necessary so that it can “refocus efforts on areas which meet the demands of students and employers and on further improvements to our campuses and student experience for the benefit of all”.

Students, alumni and the residents of High Wycombe have raised concerns because of the area’s heritage as a furniture-making town.

Sophie Kemp, a first year undergraduate and one of the leading campaigners, said: “I feel that the closing of all of these courses are shocking, but what I find worse is the closure of the two remaining furniture courses here, as they had already axed the other furniture courses.

“This is High Wycombe's heritage and is something that is very important to many people. High Wycombe furniture students are positively recognised nationally in the world of furniture. As a university I feel that furniture is its greatest asset and would be a great loss both to the university and High Wycombe itself.”

The university insists that the area’s historical connection with the furniture making industry would remain, adding that the university’s National School of Furniture would continue, allowing them to recruit “specialist work-related foundation degrees and continue to teach furniture at postgraduate level".

A spokesperson said: “We appreciate the strength of feeling and we have not taken this difficult decision lightly. Students are of course entitled to express their opinions, and we are working with the Students’ Union and with students directly to help them understand the University’s decision.”

Those undergraduates who are already studying will continue to do so until the end of their degree programme, but prospective students who have already been given an offer will be contacted by their academic department and student recruitment team where they will be offered a different route of study.