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Learning English - Words in the News
26 March, 2008 - Published 17:21 GMT
Women's Studies to end in UK universities
A graduate

Women's Studies is to disappear from British universities as an undergraduate course this summer. It's part of a gradual decline in the academic subject which became popular following the 1960s feminist movement. This report from BBC Social Affairs reporter Adrian Brown:

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London's Metropolitan University stopped taking new students for its undergraduate degree in Women's Studies in 2005 and the last 12 students will graduate with a BA in the subject this July.

Its demise follows that of other Women's Studies departments across Britain that have lost both funding and students or been merged into other disciplines.

Critics say the subject was a product of its time and that the feminist arguments of the 1970s no longer apply. It became the butt of many a joke in the mainstream media and in today's competitive job market students steer clear, preferring degrees that will secure employment.

But all is not lost for the subject. Postgraduate studies will continue in this country and Women's Studies is thriving in many countries such as India and Iran.

Adrian Brown, BBC Social Affairs reporter

Listen to the words

ending or finishing

money that is available (usually from outside sources, for example, the government)

been merged into other disciplines
been put together to be studied with other academic subjects

a product of its time
something that was appropriate or needed in a particular time or era (here, in the 1960s women and men were not treated equally so Women's Studies was seen as a useful and relevant subject to study at university)

feminist arguments
reasons in favour of treating men and women equally

the butt of many a joke
not taken seriously, made fun of

steer clear
stay away from, do not go near

secure employment
get a job

all is not lost
the situation is not completely negative

is thriving
is doing well, is successful or is popular

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