The future of one of the UK’s top nursing schools is in doubt, sparking fears that others will also close as education budget cuts start to bite.
Nursing Times has learnt that the Nursing and Healthcare School at Glasgow University is under threat of closure as a part of proposals to cut costs.
The school, which runs a bachelor of nursing degree course and various post-graduate courses, has been in the top 10 for nursing in The Times’ “good university guide” for the past three years.
The school’s 37 staff have been offered voluntary redundancy under the plans, which go out to consultation this week. The school’s 300 students and those enrolled to start in 2011 have been guaranteed they will able to complete their studies – but potentially under mostly temporary teaching staff.
The university is facing a budget deficit of £35m over the next three years as a result of a reduction in its government funding settlement. A decision on its fate will be made in mid-May.
The school’s head Margaret Sneddon told Nursing Times the news had come as a “source of great concern and shock to both students and staff”.
One second year student claimed the university was targeting the nursing department because it was small and its research not as lucrative as that carried out by some of the other departments.
She told Nursing Times: “I am shocked and upset and I am worried about the quality of the teaching. We have got good quality teaching staff that really invest time and energy in the students, and they really care about us.
“If they get rid of the staff they are going to have to employ staff from elsewhere but they will only be employing them on temporary contracts.”
A university spokesman said redundancy applications had to be in by the end of February and staff would be required to leave by the end of July.
Matthew Hamilton, director of policy at the Council of Deans of Health, said given the financial climate more closures could be set to follow.
He said: “I think that invariably if you cut funding and commissioning [of places by health bodies] then that is going to make life difficult in terms of sustainability in some of these arrangements and we are really concerned.”
Conversely the threat to the Glasgow course comes a month after Edinburgh Napier University opened a new high tech nursing training centre.
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