A PROTEST against the closure of an art and design course at the University of South Wales (USW) took place in Newport earlier today.

Around 45 students and members of staff staged the protest outside USW’s Newport city campus between 10am and 12pm, following the university’s decision to close the course to focus on higher education.

USW announced last September that its Caerleon campus was to close, with teaching to finish at the site in summer 2016. The art and design course’s five members of staff were informed not to recruit students for next year and their jobs are to go this summer.


Boos ring out... pic.twitter.com/lDO27GYV3B

— Ciaran Kelly (@ArgusCKelly) March 20, 2015

Nearly 700 people signed a petition asking the university to reverse the decision and this was presented to the vice-chancellor, Professor Julie Lydon, following the protest yesterday.

The one-year foundation art and design course has been established in Newport for 50 years and around 50 students enrolled this year.

Current student Gary Thomson, 59, who is originally from Belfast said: "The fact that they’re disbanding means there is going to be a problem.

Keith Thomson, 59, a student, said the course has given him a great opportunity pic.twitter.com/elfrRJ2gvS

— Ciaran Kelly (@ArgusCKelly) March 20, 2015

"You need that stepping stone, otherwise people are going to be on the dole.

“The people in between foundation and higher education will struggle.”

Amelia Lambert, 18, from Machen, who is also a student on the course, said: “It’s been an absolute tragedy.

“The course is like a family and everyone is so supportive.

“We’ll have to keep going until the end.”

Edward Jeavons, the fine art lecturer on the course, said: “This is a short-sighted decision, because the numbers moving onto degree courses are going to drop sharply.


“We have a meeting with the vice-chancellor next Friday and if she doesn’t listen to us, we’ll be writing to the chancellor, Rowan Williams.

“The alternative course in Crosskeys is completely unsuitable. It would take a student from Chepstow two hours and two buses to get across.”

Course leader Charles Penwarden, who has taught on the course for nearly 30 years, said: “Non-traditional students, people who want a second chance, use this course as a vital bridge onto higher education.

"USW prides itself on listening to the voice of the students and surely they will hear how strong the voice is in the local community.”

A spokesman for the university said: “The university is aware that a group of people gathered at our Newport city campus to express their opinions about USW's decision last year to stop teaching the FE course in foundation art and design as part of a stronger focus on higher education courses.

“Their representatives were invited to present a petition to the vice-chancellor, and did so in an atmosphere of professional respect.”