Defend Education has been given access to the university’s report on the outcome of the review of physiotherapy. Once again this shows that the university’s public narrative is false, and that they are trying to deceive students as to the real impact of the closure of their course.
The university have once again tried to present the physiotherapy review and the loss of a third of physiotherapy staff as in some way an exciting opportunity. Their website describes the cuts to the department as “a proactive and positive move” that “will generate new educational and research opportunities.” The actual document, if you sift through the newspeak, shows a very different picture. We will make three Points:
- One third of the staff in physiotherapy, including all clinical tutors are to be made redundant
- Over the last three years the department has been prevented from fully functioning by the review and then this has been used to cut it
- The university are not thinking about the interests of physiotherapy staff, students or the social good that well trained physiotherapists provide.
A one third cut in staff numbers, including all clinical tutors.
Despite the rhetoric of “exciting opportunities” the proposal will lead to around a third reduction in staff numbers. This will inevitably and obviously hit the quality of teaching on the program. What has not been communicated to students and kept entirely secret except in confidential documents (p.5) is that the proposal is to make all the clinical physiotherapy staff redundant. This will have a huge direct impact of the quality of provision for students when they are on placement and can only be seen as a fundamental alteration of the way physiotherapy is taught at Birmingham going forward.
Hampering of the department by the review
From page 15 to page 17 the review sets out its evaluation of the four options. The description under option 2 is particularly deceptive and follows a worrying pattern in the way Birmingham does course closures. The report gives the impression that a number of chances have been given to physiotherapy to make plans and improve the department when in fact the opposite is true. Physiotherapy has been under review for the last three years meaning that the staff have been under the constant threat of imminent redundancy and the department has not been able to make any strategic plans or hire any new staff. What the university has effectively done is stop the development of the department over the last three years and then use the lack of development as an excuse for making large cuts.
The restructure is clearly not for the benefit for physiotherapy staff or students
One of the recommendations (p.4) of the review states that “the restructured provision should be based on the principles detailed in the strategic case presented by SportEx”. If you look at the strategic case provided by SportEx (p. 37) it talks almost exclusively of how physiotherapy research can be integrated into SportEx; contrary to all the talk of exciting opportunities there is nothing about how physiotherapy students will benefit from the move other than that they will be able to take a few modules currently provided by the new department.
The University of Birmingham is not giving physiotherapy students the full story. The management have hampered the department for the last three years and are now using this as an excuse to close it. Instead of informing staff and students about what is going on and working with us to try and make the university better; they try to keep us in the dark as much as possible and work completely against our interests. A huge cut to the department is painted as an exciting opportunity and students are not told that one of the fundamental things about their course- the expert support given to them by clinical tutors while on placement- is to be cut entirely. At a time when the university has a £27million surplus it should not be cutting the provision on the physiotherapy course.