I am proud to be a graduate of the University of Leicester (a part-time Masters in Victorian Studies many years ago, since you ask), but I think it has made a profoundly wrong move.
As the Leicester Mercury reported a few days ago:
Education bosses at the University of Leicester are proposing to close the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning.
It's believed the closure will result in the loss of several teaching and administration jobs.
Around 30 staff were issued with redundancy notices on Monday and a 90 day consultation period is now underway. Some 348 students currently study there.There is a perception that universities are now keener on making money than discharging wider social responsibilities.
The University of Leicester spokesman quoted by the Mercury does nothing to dispel this. He said
the proposal came at a time when it was "committed to focusing on its world-class strengths, and to being financially sustainable." He added that the courses offered by the Vaughan Centre had operated at a loss for many years.Admittedly, part-time degrees now seem hugely expensive next to MOOCs (massive online open courses) and the like, but there is still a social need for them.
Adult education is a great engine of social mobility and personal liberation. As Professor Sue Wheeler told the Mercury:
"The higher education and degree courses provided give those people who might not have succeeded at education the first time around, the chance to gain qualifications. They can study part-time for a fraction of the cost. It provides a real community service and that's what Vaughan College was originally set up to do back in 1862 when it first opened."Another lecturer, who (tellingly) didn't wish to be named, told the paper she had seen first hand the: "wonderful ways in which it enriched the lives of local people through access to Higher Education".
Offering adult education to the local community should be a condition of an institution being allowed to confer degrees, At present they are too focused on serving dull middle-class children, not just from Britain, but from around the world.
Vaughan College was originally housed in a building on Holy Bones. Until 2013 it was housed in the building on the right of the photograph above. (The one directly opposite, seen across the Roman remains, is the Jewry Wall Museum.)