We are going to fire some music professors

We are going to fire some music professors


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2021

Royal Holloway University of London has just specified that it intends to reduce staff numbers in its music department, ‘where student numbers no longer support the staffing levels.’

Here’s the statement:

Following detailed discussions with Heads of School and Heads of Department, a paper will go to Academic Board on Tuesday 29 June, which sets out a proposal to make a small reduction in the number of academic posts in six disciplines where student numbers no longer support the staffing levels, in order to enable increases in academic posts in disciplines where there are currently high levels of student interest.  

In light of the differences in resources, the six disciplines have reviewed the positioning of their courses for students, the organisation of teaching and the distribution of workload with a view to how they can better align to student interests and, in the meantime, continue to deliver with a smaller number of academic posts.  

In terms of the proposed reduction, in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, the Department of Mathematics and in the School of Humanities, the change to overall numbers can be achieved through voluntary means, for example by not recruiting to vacant posts. If the proposed change goes ahead, in the Departments of Earth Sciences, Music and Social Work, to achieve the reduction it would be necessary to commence a consultation process with colleagues in those areas and with our Trade Unions. We are committed to this being a meaningful consultation where we would collectively explore all options to achieve these changes in a voluntary way. …

The expectation is that the music department will change what it teaches:

We are committed to the broad subject mix on offer at Royal Holloway and the proposal to reduce academic staff numbers at all, in any discipline, is not one made lightly. Consideration has been given throughout in order to minimise, as far as possible, any impact on staff and students.  

Where academic staff reductions are proposed, I mentioned that those disciplines are reviewing course content, design and delivery. Within the next three years, the ambition is that they will launch new courses that reflect contemporary developments within their disciplines. As demand for those courses grows, we would expect academic staff numbers to increase accordingly.  


Professor Paul Layzell


  • Emil says:

    So, as mentioned on the last post, nothing to do with “decolonising”, nothing to do with “too Western” music, everything to do with university managerialism and penny-pinching to invest in disciplines where the university stands to make money, because the UK hates funding education.

    Yet again, a moral panic based on a fiction to hide the actual outrageous situation.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I rather think you’re confused about who are the agents of ‘moral panic’ and right now it’s the hard Left.

      • Emil says:

        It’s not the “hard left” that invented that Royal Holloway is firing profs because of “decolonialism” when they’re actually falling prey to the Conservative’s government systematic dismantling of higher education.

        • Saxon says:

          Nothing to do with “the Conservative’s government systematic dismantling of higher education”. This has been a long term trend which all parties have, perhaps unknowingly, encouraged.

          Over the last 30+ years the emphasis in universities has been on spending money where the money is generated. This means more funding for subjects which generate lots of students and less funding for subjects which don’t generate lots of students. The music department at Holloway has too few students so it is having to reduce the number of staff.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Your headline is misleading. As you know no one can may fired in Britain unless they have done something awful and have had warnings both verbal and written. This statement appears to hope that negotiations will take place and personnel will take early retirement and/or be paid redundancy.

    • rustier spoon says:

      Exactly! This discussion has been had before…they’re not being “fired”!

    • Saxon says:

      Err…they are being “fired” in the everyday meaning of the word. The university just has to show that (i) the position for which they are employed no longer exists; and (ii) there is no reasonable alternative task they can undertake.

      If they can teach a course in another department, then great. If they can’t then they go, with a generous redundancy payment.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    That’s one way to get rid of the woke culture; starve them out!!

  • George says:

    Let the right-sizing and dummying down carry on. One wonders if the curriculum will feature such useless things as courses to lead to a degree in pop music etc.?