Imperial says Wye will be a ‘life-changing experience’

Lifechange

The college’s website PR fails to tell potential students what is actually happening

And I guess most of us wouldn’t argue with that. But if you are a student thinking of choosing Imperial at Wye for your future best not trust Imperial’s own website for accurate advice on what to expect.

The site has a bouncy little section entitled ‘Life at Wye’, which opens with the words, ‘Choosing to study with Imperial College at Wye is a life-changing experience. The College is acknowledged as a centre of excellence for teaching and has some of the brightest and most innovative teachers anywhere in the UK.’

Which may well be true, but there is a lot that goes unsaid. Firstly, this year’s undergraduate intake, which presumably is now mainly in place, will be the last to get an Imperial degree through studying at Wye. From next year the sole remaining undergraduate courses will be run by the University of Kent, an organisation with some standing, but, as it would surely admit, not quite the kudos of Imperial. And this year’s students may find some eagle-eyed employers cast a sideways look at their degree too, since the teaching they will receive will come from UoK employees, albeit mainly the same individuals who are doing it on behalf of Imperial now.

Imperial are handing over the entire business course to UoK, with the promise that, for this year only, those who complete it will get an their stamp on their graduation certificates, not UoK’s. All this bright-eyed advertising copy about Imperial being ‘consistently placed among the top three UK universities for research quality’ seems somewhat odd too, given that one of its persistent moans about Wye has been that the research hasn’t been up to its own exacting standards.

For the record, we asked UoK what courses it intended to run at Wye in future, and whether these amounted to a takeover in kind of the main college itself. It said…

The full list of programmes to be run by the University of Kent at Wye College follows below.

Undergraduate and Extended Master’s Programmes

(i) BSc in Applied Business Management
(ii) MSci in Applied Business Management
(iii) BSc in Applied Business Management (with a Year in Industry)
(iv) MSci in Applied Business Management (with a Year in Industry)

Master’s Programmes

(v) MSc in Agricultural Economics
(vi) MSc in Agribusiness Management
(vii) MSc in Applied Environmental Economics
(viii) MSc in Agribusiness for Development
(ix) MSc in Managing Rural Development
(x) MSc in Food Chain Management

Research Programmes

(xi) Research programmes in agricultural economics and business management currently provided at the Wye Campus.

These are existing programmes that will be taken over from Imperial College. Kent is due to start delivering these programmes on the Wye College campus from September 2007.

The University of Kent currently has no plans to put on any new courses at Wye, nor has there been any discussion about taking over any other course from Imperial College.

Since there are no new courses, there is no requirement for new accommodation. All programmes will continue to run from the existing building stock.

This seems a pretty full calendar for a college that is simply a tenant, and a lot more than Imperial seem to want to do in Wye in terms of academic work (property development is another matter). UoK predicts that it will have 459 students in place on these courses in 2007/08 and 477 the following year, which is not far off what the old Wye College was achieving ten years ago in agriculture.

Imperial did, you will recall, consider handing over the college to UoK back in 2002 when the new Sykes regime began to get wobbles over Wye. Has it effectively done this in reality, but as a landlord, not as a seller of the (now potentially very valuable) property it appears to have bought by mistake in the first place?

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About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome. Most recent book the novel of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
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