At the end of last year the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, announced that it was undertaking a comprehensive consultation process, following its decision to “disinvest” in research and teaching in hydrogeology.
During a 60 day formal consultation period, the University sought views on the proposal from a range of internal and external stakeholders, including students, staff, alumni and industry.
Failure to make persuasive representations and provide new and compelling information to the University’s Change Management Group would have resulted in the closure of the Hydrogeology MSc Course after the current cohort had completed their studies.
Support for the continuation of hydrogeology research and teaching at the University included a joint representation from The Ground Forum and the Association of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Specialists who expressed concern about the ability of industry to recruit employees in specialist areas such as hydrogeology from within the UK – “…students graduating from the Birmingham Masters course in Hydrogeology come highly recommended by employers and fulfil a vital role within the ‘ground teams’ of many companies. It would be extremely short sighted to close one of the few remaining courses that specialise in the discipline especially when the demand from students for places is high and demand from employers is as keen as ever.”
Following the close of consultation the University has announced that subject to University Council ratification in April, it will:
- continue to deliver the MSc Hydrogeology programme with improved delivery effectiveness; which is a revision to the original proposal in response to internal and external support for the MSc, and shows the University’s commitment to address the apparent skill shortage for UK (and overseas) industry in the area of Hydrogeology;
- retain the Year 2 undergraduate module (An Introduction to Hydrogeology) that opens a pathway to M-level modules in Hydrogeology;
- organise the School’s research activity into four complementary themes: Environmental Health Sciences; Geosystems; Physical Geography; and Human Geography, and disinvest in Hydrogeology research, as proposed originall.
The University also states that it “looks forward to developing mutually beneficial links with relevant industry partners to ensure the MSc Hydrogeology programme continues to fit the needs of employers in the field.”