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Queen's University retains sociology degree after protests

By Rebecca Black

The single honours sociology degree course at Queen's University has been saved.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed plans last month by the university to scrap the course, which sparked outrage and protests among academics and students.

However, the university Senate voted at its meeting yesterday to save the programme. Afterwards, the University College Union (UCU) welcomed the development. "It's a vindication of our stance on the threats to humanities and social sciences generally, and to sociology in particular," Queen's UCU president Dr Fabian Schuppert said.

"And it's a major victory for students and staff, who campaigned hard over the last number of weeks. I'm glad that management have finally listened," he added.

He also called on university chiefs to "urgently rebuild trust" between management and junior staff.

Sociology lecturer Dr Veronique Altglas described the U-turn as "very encouraging", but warned there was still concern over potential future threats to the course.

"As we've seen, when staff, students and managers work together in a spirit of consultation and openness, things work out much better," she said. "The best people to reform sociology and anthropology at Queen's are the subject area experts within the schools.

"In university league tables, out of 97 UK universities, the Queen's sociology department is ranked seventh for student experience and 27th overall in terms of indicators like teaching quality and graduate prospects."

A Queen's University spokeswoman confirmed that the university's Senate had yesterday endorsed a recommendation from the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to launch new single honours programmes in both anthropology and sociology, scheduled to start in 2018.

"This commitment to curriculum enhancement, innovation and employability across the faculty will deliver the University's Vision 2020," she said.

"(This is) a world-class international university that supports outstanding students and staff conducting leading-edge education and research, focused on the needs of society," the spokeswoman added.

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