King’s College London faces controversy and fierce opposition as they announce plans to make cuts in the School of Arts and Humanities, including the firing of several internationally renowned academics.
KCL’s Department of Philosophy are outraged pending the forced retirement of Professor Charles Travis and lecturers Dr. Wilfried Meyer-Viol and Director of Graduate Studies Professor Shalom Lapin. Professor Lapin commented online that he was “summoned without warning” by the Head of Arts and Humanities and told that his “position would be redundant as of September”.
Professor Lapin claims to have turned down a position at Hebrew University’s Computer Science Department after being assured that his job at King’s was secure by the same Head that informed him of his upcoming redundancy. A group of graduate students have written a letter which has been presented to management, to which they await a response.
These cuts, called “callous” and “reckless” by the Research Assessment Exercise, were described by a letter of opposition from UCL and other universities’ academic staff as “savage”, and that “such a reduction of staff numbers through compulsory redundancy removes any appearance of job security for academics at King’s.” The letter adds: “The best candidates in the humanities will shun the institution, and those of strong standing now in post will all seek to leave. The reorganization will succeed in the aim of making a once great institution manifestly mediocre.”
Imperial has come under similar scrutiny in the past for proposing cuts to make 60% of foreign language classes offered to undergraduates for credit disappear by 2010. Being a largely scientific community, many students believed the department was paramount to maintain foreign language proficiency due to its desirability in employment.
As well as the cuts in the Departments of Computer Science and Philosophy, concerns arose in KCL regarding further cuts in the Department of Music and the closure of the Paleography department. The Times reports that KCL had intent to make 22 academics redundant in Arts and Humanities, while the lecturers union called an emergency meeting for February 10th due to the estimated 205 posts at risk and up to 533 jobs which could be lost.
A spokesperson from King’s College London was not able to comment due to “prioritising our own student communications at the moment.”