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Civils lecturers strike over departmental closure plans

STRIKE ACTION is set to bring civil engineering studies at University of Hertfordshire to a halt today over the decision to close the department in 2002.

Members of the civil engineering department are expected to strike in protest at the 'gross mismanagement' of axing the departments without staff consultation or figures to justify the closure.

The action comes in the same week that the university's bosses are to reveal details of up to 100 redundancies in various departments, effective from March next year.

Redundancies planned in civil engineering would leave the department with just four fulltime lecturers to cover classes for over 80 students.

Despite reassurances from university authorities that civils students still to complete their courses will be looked after, undergraduates in their final year have had their option choices restricted and lecturers claim that by March there will be no-one to teach the structures courses.

The feelings of students and lecturers were clearly demonstrated in an open meeting last week, where a vote of no confidence in senior management was passed by a clear majority.

The department is particularly infuriated by claims from the university that the decision to close was a financial one, when the staff say the department is profitable.

One student said: 'I just can't describe how betrayed I feel. . .

and not just me. After talking to some of the lecturers the mood is most definitely nasty!' He continued: 'What is most upsetting is that the civils course is not losing money and with the lack of skilled engineers why close it?'

A spokesman for the university expressed 'regret that students will be affected', but foresaw 'no reason that the action will result in a change of policy'. He continued 'it says something that only one union (the National Association of Teachers in Further & Higher Education) is striking.

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