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February 21, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Gender and Women’s Studies says goodbye

While students were hunched over textbooks studying for exams in November last year, the decision was made to close the Gender and Women’s Studies Programme at Victoria.

The programme has been plagued with problems since 2008, including continued under-funding and the retirement of academic staff. In December 2009, the university’s Academic Board decided to establish a working party to address the problems facing the programme and to consider the best way to continue offering Gender and Women’s Studies.

In a report, the group made two recommendations. Its preferred option was to continue a gender programme but in a new, more interdisciplinary form. The second recommendation was to close the programme at the end of 2010.

The Working Group ran a consultation period to allow the public to enter submissions on the recommendations.
A consultation period ran from 8 October until 12 November 2010, and 57 submissions were received and five oral submissions heard. This included submissions from students and student groups, says Professor Deborah Willis, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

On 26 November, it was publicised that the group had decided to close the programme as of 28 February 2011. It believed continuing of the programme in any form would create serious funding issues for Victoria.
The closure of Gender and Women’s studies has affected a small group of students and staff. Seven undergraduate students are still to complete their major and two post-graduate students are still to complete their work in Trimester One.

The university has put in place provisions to allow these students to complete their qualifications. Despite the closure in February, the qualification will still remain available for five years to allow these students to finish their qualifications.

One staff member is affected by the closure. This position will be disestablished on 31 May 2011.

Despite the closure of the programme, the university has reaffirmed its commitment to gender and women’s issues in other disciplines.

Over recent years, the university has developed considerable strength in gender studies across a number of faculties and programmes, and students can still take papers of interest in this area. The decision to end the specialised Gender and Women’s Studies programme recognises the strong culture of research and teaching in gender and sexuality across the university, says Willis.

Willis says that if any students have concerns over the closure of the programme they should contact the Faculty at fhss.enquiries@vuw.ac.nz.

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