[Editor's note: Yes, for those who hadn't guessed, this article is an April Fools joke...]
Imperial College today announced plans to launch several new undergraduate degrees in 2006. Most of the new programmes will be offered at the Wye Campus but there will also be two new courses launched at South Kensington as part of the Humanities Department.
A BSc Media Practices and Marketing and a more general BSc Media Studies will both launch in 2006, drawing on expertise developed for Imperial?s existing Science Communication taught masters courses. Preliminary plans are for both courses to be run on a distance-learning basis, as part of the University of London External Programme, with actual time in college for students kept to the minimum. College?s hope is that apparently this could lead to effective handling of high student numbers with minimum expansion of the current facilities.
A part-time BSc and one year MSc in Rodent Biology appears to be one of the slightly stranger of the planned options, to be run jointly between the Agricultural Sciences and Biological Sciences departments. ?Laboratory mice are a key component of many experiments in the Life Sciences,? claims Imperial?s press release, ?and these new programmes from Imperial College London will help to meet a need for skilled laboratory technicians to work with these animals in the future.?
Privately, some College figures have admitted that the new courses are more about diversification than specific expansion. ?At the moment the average cost of an undergraduate degree at Imperial College is over £10,000 a year,? said one College source. ?At present many other universities are able to subsidise expensive science and engineering courses with income from less expensive options. Imperial needs to be able to do that if we are to compete effectively in the global market for education.?
Sir Richard Sykes, Imperial?s Rector, has spoken about getting ?bums on seats?. Les Ebdon, Vice-Chancellor of Luton University, was critical of Sir Richard. Speaking as the head of a teaching focused university, he said: ?Imperial College has a mission to be a world-class research university. It's doing a different job and we need to understand that we have different universities doing different things?.
Imperial College plans to charge the full £3,000 a year fee allowed under the government?s new Higher Education legislation for all undergraduate courses including the new launches from 2006.