Samantha Griffin

Dear Professor Foskett,

I am currently a PhD student in the Centre for Professional Ethics. One of the important factors in my coming to study at Keele was the status of PEAK as a highly influential centre of bioethics research. PEAK’s position as such as establishment in a central location was also a significant factor.  I have also worked in and around higher education for ten years – and am very aware of the current funding crisis.

I am deeply concerned by proposals to close the Centre, as I am by proposals to close the philosophy programme. The University, rather than being a place of scholarship and learning, appears to now consider itself as a popular degrees machine.  I am extremely disappointed by the low value (as opposed to the simple price) that the University seems to place on these areas of scholarship. The skills obtained from these courses of study may not be those that lend themselves to immediate financial reward, but in terms of the development of the individual, and of critical thought as a foundation for academic advancement, they are unparalleled.

The University also seems to have made a fundamental error in considering that ethics should not be a separate area to law – the two are not the same. Although both disciplines are strengthened by the association, Bioethics in particular operates in an area where it needs to be in association with, but often in advance of, the law. By claiming that some of the Centre’s responsibilities will be taken up by Law is worrying because the distinctiveness of the Centre’s work collapses. There is also no indication of what areas will be considered worth retaining.

I would also suggest that in a University with a medical school, the loss of a centre such as PEAK removes the opportunities for collaboration or future recruitment to courses.  I am alarmed at the lack of consideration that appears to have been given to consultation with the Centre and the Philosophy programme to examine routes to further income generation opportunities, particularly with the advent of higher fees.

I have received reassurances that I will be able to finish my programme at Keele, and receive the ‘positive student experience’. About this I have serious reservations. Firstly, a demoralised staff cannot deliver effective support and teaching. Secondly, cuts to the department may threaten access to appropriate supervision.  Thirdly, a significant amount of my positive student experience is based on identifying with the aims and research of my department.  I have seldom found such a positive environment as that which exists in PEAK. Finally, despite my respect and admiration for my law specialist colleagues, I consider myself as a bioethicist. It was that expertise that brought me here, not the discipline of Law.

Yours sincerely

Samantha Griffin, MSc.

No comments:

Post a Comment