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8:04pm on Monday, 14th June, 2010:
We had our Departmental Meeting today at the university, delayed from April because the Head of Department was stuck in China due to the Eyjafjallajoecoleshouldplayontheleftwing volcano.
Several years ago, when the Computer Games course was instituted, it was done in an effort to get bums on seats. We weren't recruiting enough undergraduates, so we needed to attract more. The Computer Games course indeed succeeded in this regard — it's the department's second-highest recruiter (after straight Computer Science). This is usually described as "bums on seats" (er, that's "bums" as in "bottoms", not as in "down and outs", for users of the American dialect of English). Basically, the department had too many seats (ie. it was under-subscribed) so needed something to put bums (ie. undergraduates) on them.
Oh, I keep saying "department" but it rebranded itself "school". It's a department in all but name (literally!) though.
Anyway, this set-up worked swimmingly well until the previous government decided it was spending too much on university education and decided to cap the number of home and EU undergraduates that each university is allowed in total. Essex University apportioned its allocation by faculty (ie. groups of related departments) and the faculties divvied up their share to departments. The upshot is, the coming academic year our department will be allowed to recruit 70 home/EU undergraduates across all its degree schemes. This is much less than we typically recruit. In other words, suddenly we have more bums than we have seats for them.
For our other undergraduate degrees, we have masters courses and other postgraduate options available; this means we can convert some of the high-end students into postgraduates (which is good — postgraduate numbers aren't capped). We don't have a masters for Computer Games, though. When our students want to stay on (as indeed one does this year), they have to do an MSc in something else, such as Computer Science.
I realise I'm cutting my own throat here, but if I were called in as a consultant and asked to figure out ways to cut staffing costs in ths School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, I'd close down the Computer Games degree. It's squeezing out other degree schemes that have a natural postgraduate follow-up path, and it's not at the same level of abstraction as those other degree schemes either (for example, there's no BSc in Artificial Intelligence — that's regarded as part of Computer Science, as perhaps Computer Games should be).
I wonder if there are any plans to introduce an MSc Computer Games that no-one has thought to mention to me?
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