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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 15:02 GMT
Row over university cuts
Durham University has been asked to reverse a decision to axe a respected department with the loss of up to 16 jobs.

The university is closing its East Asian Studies and transferring its Linguistics department to Newcastle University.

It is also restructuring the departments of Politics, Computer Science, Sport, Sociology, Applied Social Studies and Community and Youth Work Studies with the loss of further posts.

The university, which has almost 13,000 students, has defended the plans, which it says will see about 8.7m invested over the four years - creating more jobs in the long term.

But Durham City Council is to write to university bosses, asking them to reverse its decision.

Valuable resource

The city council has passed a motion proposed by Lib Dem Councillor Carol Woods that the authority formally object to the move.

Ms Woods said: "The loss will be felt across the business community in the North East.

"We have a lot of investment in this area from East Asia and this department is a valuable resource for the region.

"The council will now put pressure on the university to re-evaluate the situation and try again to find funding to keep this department open.

"This country should be trying to promote relations with the Far East and expanding language teaching not cutting it.

Improvement programme

"The closure is seen as a snub by these countries and sends a message that we are not interested in learning about their culture.

"I hope we can persuade the university to reverse their decision"

At the time of the closure announcement, the university said: "Durham University Council has approved the strategic improvement programme, which will lead to the investment of 8.7m within the university.

"This will secure and sustain its strongest academic areas to ensure they retain their international competitiveness."

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