This article originally appeared in The Guardian on June 10 2010.
Staff and students of Middlesex University’s philosophy department are celebrating today after an announcement that it will no longer be disbanded, but will relocate to Kingston University.
Six weeks ago the future of the Centre for Research in Modern and European Philosophy (CMREP) looked bleak after Middlesex’s management announced its closure for financial reasons.
The decision provoked outrage from prominent academics across the world and a major campaign was launched to save the department.
Students occupied the Mansion House building on the Trent Park campus for 12 days, held rallies, and invited the public to lectures and discussions.
Relations between philosophy teaching staff and students and Middlesex’s management became strained after several unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a reversal of the decision. Three staff and a number of students were suspended pending disciplinary action as a result of the occupation, and a high court injunction was served to end it.
Kingston University will re-establish the CMREP by employing four senior staff from Middlesex: Eric Alliez, Peter Hallward, Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford.
The MA and PhD programmes will be re-launched at Kingston this September, and all current post-graduate students will be invited to move along with the staff.
But current BA students will finish their courses at Middlesex.
Second-year BA student Marielouise Rosbech said: “I am happy that it is partly saved but sad that it is not the whole department. If enough staff stay at Middlesex, I will finish my degree here. The tutors who are leaving to go to Kingston are still taking care of us, making sure we have reading groups and so on. I will definitely go to Kingston to do my MA.”
Another second-year student, Johann Hoiby, said: “I’ve got mixed feelings because it means that Middlesex management got away with what they did. But personally I am happy because the centre is remaining intact and I will be able to do my masters which is what I want to do.”
Professor Osborne said: “Kingston are making an incredible statement by doing this. They are positioning themselves as a different kind of university to Middlesex, one that is expanding rather than cutting back its provision in humanities subjects, and is investing in research in these areas.”
Spokespeople from Middlesex and Kingston confirmed that the relocation was going ahead but said: “Discussions are at an advanced stage and neither institution is able to comment further at this point.”
It is not clear what will happen to almost a million pounds awarded to the department by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) as a result of the last Research Assessment Exercise. The quality-related funding of £175,000 a year used to fund the salaries of the departing staff and Kingston is thought likely to seek its transfer.
Hefce said: “Transfers have been made between universities in the past, but this has been by mutual agreement and there is not a formal process.”