University Drops English Literature Course Because It 'Doesn't Lead To High Skill Jobs' | TOTUM
Holly BarrowJune 27th

Sheffield Hallam University has dropped its English Literature course amid the government's crackdown on 'low value' degrees.

The university has reportedly suspended the course for the 2023/24 cohort because less than 60% of graduates from the degree programme entered ‘high-skilled’ jobs. It comes after the government recently revealed it would be issuing fines to universities that do not get 60% of graduates into a professional job within six months. 


Speaking on the decision to axe its English Literature course, Dr Mary Pearce, who teaches the programme at Sheffield Hallam University, described the move as ‘cultural vandalism’. "We have 'world leading' research and excellent teaching, but we can’t compete on cultural capital. The demise of humanities in the post 92s is cultural vandalism," she told the Telegraph.

"When was it ever more important in our history for young people to be able to manipulate language and to understand how they are manipulated by language and stories.

"What kind of society will we have if there is no place for people from all social classes and backgrounds to have the chance to read and think (or to work in a bar for 2 years while they try to write a novel) before they have to make themselves compliant with the workplace."


Replacing the English Literature course will be a new course titled English Studies, combining literature, language and creative writing.

A spokesperson from Sheffield Hallam 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."

The government's emphasis on 'high skilled' job acquisition post-graduation to measure the value of a degree has been widely criticised, with educators and members of the public alike describing the approach as 'dangerous', 'outrageous' and 'chilling'.


In response to the news that Sheffield Hallam would be axing its English Literature degree, one person wrote via Twitter: "It is a dangerous sign when a government defines degrees in areas that promote critical thinking as "low value." Another person wrote: "My English Literature degree isn’t just about ‘reading books’ it’s anthropology, politics, history, fine art, gender studies, critical-race theory, linguistics, psychology, all rolled into one. English Lit is the ground work for humanity, if it dies then we are in big trouble."

Author John O'Farrell added: "Education isn't just about learning facts or immediately transferable skills - it is about developing the whole person and the study of English Literature does that in a subtle and slow-burn way that has benefitted millions of individuals and our country as a whole."

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