THE AXEMAN COMETH: Saving Community & Youth Work Studies at the University of Manchester

Some would have us believe that we protest too much about the shifting landscape within youth work. More evidence to the contrary emerges with each passing day. Now the highly regarded Manchester University course is under dire threat. In signing the petition I regretted once more that our Campaign does not also embrace Community Work – a debate perhaps for another day?

Undergraduate courses in Manchester University’s School of Education have been targeted in a review conducted by the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Keith Brown. Speaking at a meeting with students on Wednesday 26th September, Professor Brown asserted that the University is aiming to be one of the best Universities in the world, meaning that they only want to recruit students with excellent A levels and intend to focus on courses linked to world class research.

In a move that angered students from across the School of Education, Professor Brown announced that the Faculty is planning to SUSPEND recruitment onto the Applied Community & Youth Work Studies (ACYWS) programme, claiming that there is “no point to the course”. We challenge the rationale behind the decision, as this course has helped the University meet its social responsibility targets and in addressing the widening participation agenda.

Over the past 25 years, students on the course have worked with literally hundreds of community-based organisations, and supported young people experiencing exclusion and disadvantage throughout Greater Manchester. The course has supported local organisations to better their service provisions for vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

The programme has provided students with the opportunity to access a professionally-validated programme through non-traditional routes, as it values qualifications and experience over A levels, and has provided students with a unique opportunity to pursue their studies.

“We call on the University of Manchester Senate to reject proposals to close the Applied Community & Youth Work Studies programme. We urge the University to support provision of this course, strengthening ties with the community as part of its drive for excellence, recognising the value of this unique approach to addressing social exclusion and widening participation in higher education”.

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