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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 12:13 GMT
Students to launch legal action
Chemist with pipette
The aim of the cuts is to save cash
Dozens of students whose courses at Exeter University are being cut are to launch legal action.

The move follows the university's decision in December to close the chemistry and music departments.

The university is offering three alternatives including financial compensation for students if they have to repeat a year.

But Frank Goddard, a solicitor acting for some of the students, says the deals are not good enough.

We will have to adjust to a new place, new tutors and a new department
Phil Mercer, third year Chemistry student

The plans, aimed at cutting a 4.5m annual budget deficit, are expected to mean 130 job losses.

The university says the terms offered to students are the most generous in the country.

It has set aside about 350,000 to compensate students.

One option is to complete their course at Exeter where there will be fewer staff because of redundancies.

Or students could move to another university if places are available and would get up to 3,500 if they have to repeat a year.

A third option is to move to another course at Exeter and again compensation would be paid.

But Mr Goddard, from the firm WBW, believes students should get better compensation deals.

'Good case'

He said: "I would urge students to consider their position very carefully.

"We are seeing students who could face going back a year academically and could suffer a year's loss of earnings as a result of this and 2,000-3,500 may not necessarily represent an appropriate settlement.

"I think they have a very good case.

"They have embarked on courses expecting those courses to be honoured. At very short notice they've been told that's not going to be the case. It amounts to a breach of contract."

Third year chemistry student Phil Mercer does not know yet where he will complete the course next year.

He said: "The institutions which have said they are willing to help have been very supportive and Bath and Bristol have been particularly good.

"We will have to adjust to a new place, new tutors and a new department and that will take time.

"But it seems that's going to be the easier thing to get over rather than staying here and having the worry of not being taught to the correct level."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why universities are closing departments



SEE ALSO:
University parents 'want to sue'
21 Dec 04 |  Education
University confirms subject cuts
20 Dec 04 |  Education
Dons face chill winds of change
11 Dec 04 |  Education
Fewer chemistry courses urged
03 Dec 04 |  Education
Clarke calls for degree safeguards
01 Dec 04 |  Education


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