The Education Tripos is set to be SCRAPPED under radical new plans to shake up the teaching of Social Sciences in Cambridge.
The Education Tripos is set to be SCRAPPED under radical new plans to shake up the teaching of Social Sciences in Cambridge. The proposals follow a comprehensive review commissioned by the General Board of the University. The review aims to bring Social Sciences courses into line with National trends by creating more interdisciplinary paths of study. It is hoped that this will lure applicants currently opting for wider and more contemporary courses, such as those on offer at LSE and Oxford. The report explains that the recent transformation of SPS to PPSIS was ‘not helpful’, and led only to ‘the fragmentation of our limited resources.' The Committee advocate a number of remedial changes to link faculties, minimise the duplication of teaching and slash admin costs. Notable among the plans is the merging into a single faculty of Sociology, Archaeology, Anthropology and Criminology. Politics and International Studies will be joined by the Centres for Development and Area Studies (such as Latin American studies) to form a second unified faculty. Finally, Psychology is to be granted a department of its own, with plans to synthesise the social and developmental side (currently offered by the PPSIS faculty) and experimental psychology (as handled by Natural Sciences). This shake-up will 'create opportunities for greater flexibility and responsiveness, teaching efficiencies, and increased student choice ‘ according to the Committee. It is keen to point out however that ‘it does not envisage its proposals leading to a loss of identity for any of the constituent members within the new structures proposed.’ This is not the case however for Education, which falls victim to the reshuffle. Arguing that the Education Tripos ‘is not presently cost-effective and attracts applicants whose A Level module scores do not match those in other subjects’, the Committee believes that ‘a full three-year Tripos is no longer suitable or viable.’ The Tripos is set to be replaced with a one-year Part II course, and a possible part-time degree brought in. Vocal opposition has already arisen to the proposals, published in the Cambridge University Reporter last Wednesday. A Facebook group called ‘Save the Education Tripos and the Education Faculty’ has already gathered over 380 members. The group’s founder, Clementine Beauvais, expressed her concern about the knock-on effect to the University’s reputation: ‘Many ex-Education students go on to do a PGCE, and some do Teach First – in both cases, it is extremely valuable to have ex Cambridge students in these jobs’. Anticipating such a backlash, the Committee explains that it ‘envisages Education making an important contribution’ to the new Social Sciences Tripos, which ‘will offer Education students a greater variety of options and combinations.’ However, Gemma Gronland, a 2nd year English and Education student at Queens’ College is unimpressed. She told The Tab, ‘I feel disappointed that the University has decided that the most efficient way to consolidate Social Sciences is to eradicate the Education Tripos. I chose the course for its diversity and freedom over and above other courses on offer here. Offering the one year Part II is tokenist at best.’ But time could be running out for Education, with the abolition of the Tripos scheduled for 2012. This means that the next round of applicants, for October 2011 entry, might well be the last. The Report notes that as the ‘recommendation that a Social Sciences Tripos be introduced… has been almost universally welcomed,' the General Board of Cambridge University has suggested that ‘progress on this particular matter be expedited as quickly as possible’.