Can Kingston survive? It’s a question posed by many colleagues. An article in The Guardian recently suggests it’s touch and go for Kingston, along with London Met, Cumbria and Wolverhampton. Enrolments have collapsed at all four and applications are down 25% for us this year. The reasons are related to demographics to some extent, but also to Government policy and its obsession with markets and elites (aka ‘the wealthy’). From the natural snobbery that has always existed in the old universities has grown a vicious and contemptuous competition in which the ‘new’ universities are dismissed as second rate and fit only for second-rate students who shouldn’t be at university in the first place. Let them eat apprenticeships.
The Government’s removal of limits to recruitment has provided the means. At Kingston a reduction in student numbers was embraced at first, until the reduction became a rapid decline. Now courses and departments are closing or at risk. Nursing is in intensive care, the Maths Department’s days are numbered, and History is about to become history. One can foresee a time when Kingston, assuming it survives at all, will fragment into the Arts School, already renamed in preparation, a Business School and anything left over that meets a training need for the economy. That’s the neoliberal way, anything that doesn’t make plenty of money expendable.