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Threat to the Arts Therapies courses at the University of Roehampton

20 June 2022

The recent announcement about changes to arts therapies courses at the University of Roehampton is a considerable cause for concern. As the professional body for art therapy in the UK we are concerned about the lack of transparency and consultation by the University and the potential impact on the ongoing viability of the courses.

Students feel they are learning of a decision after the fact, rather than being consulted at a stage at which their feedback could meaningfully contribute to the University’s vision for the future. Tutors feel they have been side-lined, which is particularly distressing, given the considerable commitment, innovation, and many unpaid hours they have each provided over the past two years to keep these courses running during the pandemic.

Both students and tutors feel they haven't had a space for their views and professional experience to be properly expressed. Particularly worrying we are told it seems the University views research in these fields as “not needed” and “not important”. This apparent lack of academic, intellectual, and professional understanding is deeply troubling and has the potential to undermine and decimate the courses, which educate specialist therapists who go on to serve and support many of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Further, it is not clear how service users, or any other stakeholders, have been included in the development of these plans. This is disappointing given the value of service user voice and lived experience in contemporary health care research and policy development.

Students chose to train at Roehampton as it has some of the most respected and experienced tutors in the UK. The specifics of these training courses mean stability is required to learn through reflective practice. Throughout their training students review deeply personal psychological content. Consistent relationships between experienced clinician-tutors and students are the cornerstone of this professional learning, supporting clinical governance and modelling the kind of respectful, collaborative approach that is expected of allied health professionals. Changes to the leadership and staffing of these courses would be detrimental to the learning experience, the quality of teaching, and to future applicant numbers.

Along with our colleagues at BAMT and BADth we are seeking an urgent meeting with the University to ensure our members concerns are properly heard and to seek clarification of how the University will ensure the courses maintain their place as highly regarded arts therapy trainings.

British Association of Art Therapists, June 2022