Note: This is classed as a rant; that means it is my individual opinion, not objective fact or "Live!"'s opinion. Any current or prospective students concerned about the future of Wye and its courses are advised to contact the relevant College staff.
Ever since they heard (in the national press...) that Wye's days as an Agricultural College were over, Wye students have wanted the opportunity to express their views to the people who were making those decisions.
Well, now it's happened, and the mood can best be summed up as, "Why did we have to wait eight and a half months for that?"
But let me stop you for a minute. Yes, this article has "Wye" in the title; that's not an excuse to flame the discussion board with how my 4 A's at A' level are clearly inferior to yours. Put aside any prejudices, about anything that takes place out in the field rather than inside a glass skyscraper, that may be harboured by those of you who don't known "Biotechnology in international agricultural research" from "Farmers' Weekly", and think about the wider implications of how College has been treating students.
Perhaps most dissatisfaction today stemmed from the fact that students were given less in the way of guarantees than they had taken from previous announcements, not more; but in being more limited, these latest assurances do at least seem more believable.
Most notably, the Deputy Rector did not rule out the possibility of some of the final students on the science-based courses having to travel for some of their final taught modules (although senior Wye staff are determined to avoid this); nor that PhD students would not have to switch campuses, supervisors or both.
Neither could he say that Imperial would need to maintain any more than "a fraction" of the 900 acre Wye estate for the continuing Applied Business Management course. However, he was quick to deny that the merger was originally intended as a land grab, or that he saw Wye's only continuing contribution to Imperial as a financial one, although repeated references to Wye being "an asset" were a little more ambiguous.
Regarding the business management course, the Deputy Rector confirmed that it would remain in the Faculty of Life Sciences, since Imperial's Business School is determined to remain Postgraduate-only; but explained that in spite of previous reports saying that course would be the only academic activity on the campus, the staff involved would still be involved in (non-lab-based) research, in applied areas, such as environmental aspects, not covered by the Business School.
The Deputy Rector did offered reassurances that students would be able to complete their courses, but this too was further clarified to the point of being less reassuring than previous messages: the duty to provide courses to current students was not tied to the department, nor to the campus. It is probably the extra logistical difficulties associated with getting students onto courses or finding space and facilities for research students at other sites that should provide reassurance, rather than any related commitment on Imperial's part.
When asked if the current assurances were any more believable than previous assurances, he replied that no guarantees given since the restructuring was announced in August have been broken; apparently "There will be no impact on course provision for current or prospective (2005 entry) students on taught undergraduate or postgraduate courses" does not mean that there will be no impact on course provision for current or prospective (2005) entry students on taught undergraduate or postgraduate courses; it means there will be no impact on current students on taught undergraduate or postgraduate courses, or prospective student on the one particular undergraduate course that they have already said will continue for longer than that anyway. Apologies if this student media publication misled you in any such interpretations.
In some cases, the answers were very clear, just not what anyone wanted to hear: Imperial's decision to close the science courses was made, and not even a "full-scale riot" would have changed that.
However, answers regarding the future of the wider campus continued to be infuriatingly non-forthcoming, although it was claimed that the decisions were not already made and any student input provided at this stage was not necessarily a wasted effort. It was also claimed that students would be informed once decisions were made, but amidst claims that students were informed of the course-related decisions this may not be very meaningful.
Unfortunately one hour was not enough for the students to ask all of their questions; and so the Deputy Rector has offered to return to the campus if required, and another similar event will be arranged for Wye's MSc students, who were sitting examinations at the time.
Most notably, following repeated references to "If Wye gets bombed tomorrow", students did not get the chance to ask whether such plans were in place yet, but I might arrange to be off-site just in case...