Sheffield Hallam suspends its ‘low value’ English literature degree

It is the second university in the country to do so


Sheffield Hallam University has suspended its English Literature degree for the 2023/24 academic year, following Government scrutiny over alleged “low value” courses.

One of the university’s English literature lecturers Dr Mary Peace said she believes the decision was “largely economic” after staff were told five minutes before leaving for a day out, the Telegraph reports.

The university has yet to give a reason for the decision and did not state how long the suspension would last.

Dr Peace, however, suggested that a poor job return for graduates was motivation for the announcement, during a time where students are expected to be in a “highly-skilled” job within six months after graduating.

The Office for Students (OfS) has warned that degrees with high drop-out rates and low rates of graduate employment will be under increased scrutiny, all while universities face threats from OfS to withdraw student loan funding from what are seen to be low quality courses.

“Humanities students either take a long time to get into conventional jobs or never reach the threshold where they have to pay back their loans”, Dr Peace told the Telegraph.

Dr Peace explained that the university would instead offer an English Studies degree that includes a mix of literature, creative writing and language, mainly because it will continue to recruit students who will go on to study teaching qualification PGCE.

In suspending its English literature degree, Sheffield Hallam has become one of the first UK universities to do so, following the University of Cumbria in 2021.

In response to the announcement, a university spokesman said: “As a large comprehensive university offering more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, we keep our portfolio of courses under constant review to ensure that they align to the latest demands from students and employers.

“A small number of courses are being suspended or closed, which has been communicated to the relevant staff. These changes do not involve job losses.

“We continue to offer a wide range of learning opportunities across many disciplines. Whatever students choose to study at Sheffield Hallam, they will graduate with the confidence and skills to tackle real-world problems, having had the chance to complete work experience in every year of their chosen programme of study.”

Admissions service UCAS found a drop of more than a third in applications to English degrees from 2012, with former student Simon Spanton calling the suspension “depressing” and “hugely damaging to society”.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Best friends killed in car crash just months before starting at Sheffield Hallam together

Sheffield Hallam is awarding former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell an honorary doctorate

Someone’s put up a poster saying there’s a ‘sudden increase in pregnancies’ in Sheff halls

Featured image via Unsplash.