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Federation University reinstates arts degree after sustained public pressure

The University has reversed its decision to cut its Bachelor of Arts program in a “major victory” for staff and students.

Federation University has reversed its decision to scrap its Bachelor of Arts degree after facing sustained criticism from the university community.

The initial decision to discontinue Federation’s arts course was announced last week after failing to consult with staff and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), as well as the broader community.

“We have listened to staff and the community, and have made the decision that the Bachelor of Arts (BA) program will continue in 2023,” said Acting Vice-Chancellor and President Liam Sloan in a statement this morning.

“We will review the BA to ensure it is fit for purpose to be delivered as part of our Australian first co-operative education model, for regional students wanting a head start on a successful career and for regional employers wanting graduates primed for the workplace,” Sloan said.

The NTEU praised the University’s reversal of the cut and called it a “major victory” for staff and students.

“This major union win shows what can be achieved when we stand up to bad decisions from rogue Vice-Chancellors,” said NTEU Federation University Branch President Mathew Abbott.

“It’s a huge victory for regional students and university staff who deserve access to an arts program without having to leave their communities and move to metropolitan areas,” Abbott said.

The continuation of the BA program will also save multiple jobs across the faculty, but many staff jobs remain at risk after a major operational restructure announced last year that will see the University’s six academic schools replaced by three new ‘Interdisciplinary Employment and Start-Up Centres’.

“Vice-Chancellors have been put on notice: we will fight and win when jobs and communities’ access to higher education are under threat,” said NTEU Victorian Division Assistant Secretary Sarah Roberts. 

“Arts graduates make society stronger. Universities must factor the cost of running an arts program into all business decisions,” Roberts said.

This comes in the context of sector-wide attacks on the arts and humanities from the federal government and university management, including fee hikes under the Job Ready Graduates Package.

Similar controversial operational restructuring programs have also been implemented at the University of Sydney and the University of NSW.