Oxford Brookes University has just announced that it is closing the music programmes and department with immediate effect. Although existing students will be taught until they complete their studies, staff redundancies are being planned from as early as May. This is a devastating situation for all staff and students and will limit the opportunities for young people to study music.
The closure of music at Oxford Brookes has come as a huge surprise and shock. This is a quality department with world leading research centres that are internationally acclaimed and have industry recognition, notably OBERTO, the Opera Research Unit and Sound on Screen. The department makes an important contribution to national research excellence funding for the university.
The university has just completed a new flagship performance space, which was intended to bring Music, the creative industries and STEM subjects together at the university in an innovative and creative way. It seems, therefore, an inopportune moment to make such a sudden decision to close both music and maths.
Colleagues in music were developing exciting new programmes to respond to changing student cohorts and interest and to link with other complementary areas, such as film and technology. These were well under way and it seems as though they will now no longer be considered. The department is asking for more time so that its new programmes can be properly developed.
This proposed closure will have a number of negative results:
- It will damage the pipeline of opportunities in music for talented young people from a wide range of backgrounds;
- It will impoverish music higher education provision in the creative and performing arts sector in the region;
- It will deplete the musical and cultural life of the area.
We need a variety of options for music study at university level. The closure of music at Oxford Brookes will remove a distinctive and high-quality provider. Music is not simply a wider opportunity for students, but an inherently enriching subject to study. We need a range of music departments, not just musical opportunities.
We are asking the Board of Governors and Vice Chancellor to give the Music department more time to propose new programmes that respond to our current times. They want the 12 months it will take to complete this process; they welcome change, not closure.