OXFORD BROOKES University is to stop offering degrees in civil engineering from the autumn, fuelling fears that civil engineering courses at many newer universities are under threat.
The decision by Oxford Brookes comes as universities and colleges face research funding cuts due to a change in policy by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (News last week).
Only universities achieving the maximum five star rating have seen funding maintained for 2002/03. Funding for universities rated 5/5 - classed as achieving international excellence in up to half of the research activity submitted - is cut by 12%.
Universities rated 4/5 - classed as achieving national excellence in virtually all of the research activity submitted - will see cuts of 29%; those rated 3a/5 cuts of 67%; and those rated 3b/5 and less will receive no funding at all.
The majority of the 28 universities carrying out research in civil engineering and the built environment and rated four or less are former polytechnics, raising fears that an insurmountable funding divide will close courses.
'Whereas the well established universities did well, there is no doubt that there is a cluster that has fallen out of the pack, ' said the Institution of Civil Engineers research committee chairman Kay Johnson.
'Combined with a lack of applications onto courses, the bottom cluster must be in serious danger now.'
Oxford Brookes civil engineering department will finally close when the last of its 92 students graduate in 2005.