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Exeter uni cans chemistry department

Chemists lament 'disastrous' news

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In a move that has been dubbed as 'disastrous' by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Exeter University is to drop the teaching of chemistry as a subject. 130 staff are to be made redundant after the university said that the department was losing £3m a year. The university's music and Italian departments will also be closed. The announcement comes in spite of a 21 per cent rise in applications to the university this year, with five students competing for every place, the Independent reports.

The university blamed the decision on a change in funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Exeter university's chemistry department was awarded four stars out of five by Higher Education Funding Council for England. This meant that it received £21,000 per academic, less than half of the £46,000 per academic provided to the university's five-star physics department.

The university has said that it will be offering staff short-term contracts on courses until they end, to allow current students to complete their programmes. However, Students fear that the measures will force them to finish their courses at other universities, as staff may not want to continue at a department with no future. "None of the lecturers I have spoken to want to return," a student told BBC News.

Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, has expressed concern over the closures and has asked members of the Cabinet to submit lists of "subjects of strategic national importance".

In the past decade 10 university chemistry courses have closed. The Royal Society of Chemistry predicts that between six and 20 will still be open in a decade's time. ®

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