Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Annex A


  Re: Letter to non-final year-students on single honours chemistry programmes and joint honours chemistry and law and archaeology and chemistry

  In the light of the University's decision to cease its activities in single honours chemistry programmes and joint honours chemistry and law and archaeology and chemistry, I am writing to you to give you information that you will need in order to make the best possible decision, to achieve an excellent award at the end of your period of study. You are not being required to make an irrevocable decision at this point but we are asking you as part of a continuing dialogue to consider carefully the information below and provide an expression of interest in the options available by using the return slip provided.

  As you will know, I have convened a Student Liaison Group which I chair and which draws upon Guild of Students' representatives, student representatives, Chemistry staff representatives and a member of support staff from central administration. I am extremely grateful to the student reps on the Group, for giving their assistance to this task in what I am aware are very difficult circumstances. The Group has met twice this week and I envisage that it will continue to meet as necessary in the coming weeks and months.

  The first task for the Group was to discuss fully the options for students and to seek to provide the fullest possible response at this stage so that students are able to reflect on this information with family and friends over the winter break. This letter has been produced through that process, and I very much hope that you will find it helpful.

  What are my options?

  As indicated by the Vice-Chancellor when he met with Chemistry students last week, there are a number of options available, and we are not ruling any of these out. However, it is in everyone's interests to start considering their options as soon as possible, particularly so that students who wish to transfer together to other Chemistry departments can make fully informed choices as early as possible and receive maximum support from Exeter and the receiving institution.

Option 1:  Continue to study Chemistry at Exeter

  As discussions get underway with Chemistry staff, we are not yet in a position to know which staff will have left the University by 31 July 2005. However, it is clear that many will do so, which will pose challenges for the delivery in 2005-06 of the full programme of undergraduate Chemistry teaching at Exeter. We will endeavour to meet our obligation of delivering core modules as indicated in the programme specifications, but there will be reduced flexibility in the optional modules and projects offered. We are actively considering whether students could access specialist modules elsewhere whilst continuing to register for an Exeter degree or be taught on the Exeter programme by specialists from other institutions.

  Current third year students in Chemistry and Law will be unaffected by the changes as the final year of the programme is taught by the School of Law.

Option 2:  Transfer to other universities to continue studying Chemistry at ESc and undergraduate Masters level

  We have held detailed discussions at the highest level with Bristol and Bath universities and will be able to arrange group transfers to their excellent Chemistry programmes—under these arrangements we would be able to sort out much of the paperwork involved. We are carrying out a detailed mapping of modules at present. Depending on the level of interest shown, we will organise visits to these universities and their Chemistry departments at the start of the Spring term.

  We have also been approached by several other universities who are willing to take Exeter students, including Southampton and Surrey, where we have had discussions with senior officers. We will facilitate all transfers, but stress that it is clearly in the best interests of students and receiving universities for this to be handled on a group basis.

  In all these cases financial assistance will be provided to students to facilitate transfer and we anticipate that we will be able to offer up to £2,000 to each student to assist with the costs of relocation. Final decisions will need to be made in February.

Option 3:  Transfer to other programmes within Exeter at the end of the 2004-05 academic year

  Transfer to other programmes at Exeter is possible, providing that you have appropriate qualifications, although we will be as flexible as possible. Some programmes (such as Biological and Medicinal Chemistry, Physics, Exercise and Sports Science, and Engineering) may accept students part way through this academic year. Should students be required to drop back a year, financial assistance will also be provided.

  Chemistry and Law students can transfer to the Law LLB at the end of this academic year (first years into first-year LLB, second years into second-year LLB, etc).

  Archaeology and Chemistry students can transfer to single honours Archaeology at the end of this academic year (first years into second-year Archaeology and second years into third-year Archaeology).

  Should you wish to transfer to another programme within Exeter, you should advise us as soon as possible.

  What happens next?

  The Council's decision will be posted on the University homepage straight after the meeting ends on 20 December.

  As part of our dialogue with you, we have provided a form below for you to indicate your current preferred options; please return this as soon as possible, and no later than 31 January. We will be discussing these options with you again early in the Spring term. Although full details about staffing levels here will not be available until later next year (around the start of the Summer term in April), it will be important to make final decisions about transfers as early as possible to ensure that places are available.

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