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Helen

Your help needed please to save an astronomy course

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I'm currently studying part-time for a degree in Observational Astronomy at the University of South Wales.  This is a relatively new course, been running for 4 years, and is aimed at those who want to study astronomy but don't have a strong background in maths and physics.  It is practical more than theoretical - you actually get to learn the night sky, look through telescopes, do observing logs, learn history, as well as study planetary science, formation and development of stars and galaxies etc.  The emphasis is not on the derivation of all the equations but on their practical use.  Science communication and outreach also form an important part of the course.  The way the course is taught and assessed teaches students a wide range of work-applicable skills: doing presentations, writing articles, doing press notices, researching and writing reports, technical and software and analytical skills.  

I'm loving it!

The course was amended and revalidated during the summer based on the experience of the first 4 years of the course.  Those providing external input to the process were impressed by the course, which is actually unique in the UK.  It therefore came as a complete shock to everyone, including the teaching staff!, when the Uni announced on Wed that it was phasing the course out!  No new students will be taken on.

Student numbers aren't huge, but it is still a relatively new course.  The University has said that it does make a surplus though, so it more than pays its way.  The official reason for closure is that the cost of investing in the future of the course isn't justified by the projected student numbers, but no evidence has been provided for the projected costs or student numbers.  As the staff haven't been involved in any detail in the decision-making process it does not appear that options for increasing numbers, alternative investment strategies have been properly considered.  We're asking for more information from the Uni on all this.

The Welsh Government today started a campaign to strengthen the science base in Wales by spreading the message that science is fun and rewarding.  It also wants to increase the number of girls in science.  Our course could have been designed to deliver those objectives!

Therefore cutting the course seems perverse. 

We're therefore seeking support to get the University to reconsider the decision.

A petition is here.  https://www.change.org/p/dr-malcolm-thomas-keep-bsc-observational-astronomy-at-the-university-of-south-wales#share

If you could think about supporting us that would be great  :smiley:

Thanks

Helen

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Very sorry to hear of your predicament. I learned about this course at Astrofest, and was thinking of joining it next year - it sounded like it was exactly what I was looking for. Really hope it gets reinstated. Petition signed.

Best of luck!

Simon

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It sounds a very interesting and rather unique course. I've signed the petition. Lets hope that they see sense.

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Hi Helen, I have signed the petition already, and am posting it throughout the south wales astro societies, the work , Martin , Paul and you the students do is invaluable is supporting the out reach programme throughout South Wales 

I hope we can turn their heads on this matter 

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Thanks all.  It really is unique and we're sure the full impact of closure hasn't been considered.

Helen

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Errmm! A bit thick maybe, but I filled in my comment, and my details, but the signing bit

brings me to a brick wall  :BangHead: .

Sign how?

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Early retirement leaves me with time on my hands and this course would very much appeal to me.

I sincerely hope that they see sense and that you are able to graduate in this subject. Good luck

Petition signed :smiley:

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Signed.

It would be a disaster to lose this course. What a change to see a course which has practical value instead of theoretical. I wish I could do something like this.

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Thanks everyone :-) We're going to write to the Welsh Government Ministers as well as the University and being able to add comments from the petition will strengthen the case we believe.

Helen

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Sounds like a great course. I think more courses like this (which are not maths heavy etc) are needed for people who really just want to learn about what they see and how to see it.

Signed.

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Thanks everyone :smile:  We're up to 850 signatories at the moment, not bad for a week!  

We're not getting any response from the Uni at the moment, but there's a bit of head of steam gathering.....

If we could breach the 1,000 signatories that would be a milestone.

Thanks again for the support

Helen 

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