London

London Metropolitan University students' cuts sit-in

London Met university
Image caption London Met attracts many low-income and ethnic minority students

Students are staging a sit-in at London Metropolitan University in a protest over planned cuts.

The university plans to "consolidate its portfolio" by dropping from 557 courses to about 160.

NUS officer Claire Locke said up to 70 students occupied the graduate centre on Holloway Road, in north London, on Wednesday night.

The university said it would "work closely" with its students and staff to find a "responsible way forward".

"London Metropolitan University fully recognises the democratic right of students to protest, providing such protest is free from violence and does not adversely impact on the university's teaching, research and administrative operations," it added.

Ms Locke said students were fighting "to maintain the value of our degrees".

'Unique courses'

Meanwhile, performing arts student James Taylor said around 20 people were still occupying the graduate centre, which included two lecture theatres, seminar rooms and IT facilities, on Thursday morning.

He said the students would remain there "as long as it takes".

"We have been told we will have to transfer to another university to complete our course," he said.

"There's nowhere else in London that does a similar course.

"Students of unique courses like Caribbean studies, won't be able to complete their course anywhere else in the UK."

Teaching 'increased'

The university, which takes a high proportion of low-income students, has faced financial problems in the past.

In 2009 it was ordered to repay £36.5m to the Higher Education Funding Council for England in a dispute over the reporting of student numbers.

Vice-Chancellor Malcolm Gillies has said that the course cuts are part of plans to ensure the university can meet future demand in "very difficult economic times".

Many of the courses being cut had "single-digit enrolments", he argued.

The university has said that as it reduces the range of subjects it will increase average timetabled teaching time by six weeks each year.

Some courses are set to close in autumn 2011, and others in subsequent years.

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