This is the only reason College have explicitly given for the colsure, so we must deal with it first.
Yes, Wye is losing money. we don't deny that. Imperial knew this when they merged.
They were not willing to accept Wye's loss-making status indefinitely, but they gave precise targets as to how quickly they should cut their losses. As far as can be seen, both from sources in Wye and the Rector's presentation in April, all such targets have been met.
I am reliably informed that the original plan meant Wye would be breaking even by 2009; and yet a new Deputy Rector has come in and declared that because it is not breaking even now, in HALF the agreed time, that's it, the department must close.
Furthermore, the figures are quite meaningless. what is included in the figure of £1.8 million? Is it just for academic activities, or is it for campus upkeep as well?
And if any costs of campus upkeep are included, is the loss offset against the income from the conference centre?
And do they really think that the profitable CEAS (Centre for European Agri-Environmental
studies) conferences, or the rental income from such bodies as English Nature, are not dependant on the presence of a world-class academic centre in related subjects?
If it is for academic activities only, also bear in mind that Undergraduate science (and engineering and medicine) courses make a loss everywhere
, as argued repeatedly by the rector in support of higher student fees. Are we to believe, then, that AgSci would be the only Imperial College Department ever to have made a loss and not been immediately shut down? Even if this is the case, there is a speial argument as outlined above. If not, either this is an incredible double-standard, or the first step towards removing ever more study from Imperial in the pursuit of ever greater profit margins.
With losses on Undergraduates throughout college, and net deficits throughout at least the Faculty of Life Sciences, the complete closure of entire departments cannot be a sustainable solution (if Imperial is to remain as an academic institution and not just a conferencing firm).
As for longer-term targets, Wye is heading towards breaking even. Imperial has sustained over half of the losses it can expect to sustain, and yet wants to pull out now.
Numbers have hit their lowest and are now recovering; the last big pre-merger year left last year, leaving us with the smallest year (from when Imperial left us out of their prospectus- hardly Wye's fault and hardly an intrinsic problem with Agricultural disciplines...)
So whilst new intake has been rising ever since that first post-merger year, total numbers are only beginning to rise now. And as numbers rise, unit cost falls so whilst undergraduates are loss-making college-wide right now, the figures would be comparable to the London-based courses, if not lower where London-weighted costs could be avoided.
whilst elsewhere this is offset to a greater extent by research income, this is also recovering, as the department recovers from its GM-related losses and moves into other emerging markets such as sustainable or organic agriculture.
Of course the Business management course loses less, it's a non-lab-based course! Do we see the Rector deciding the College should pull out of Medicine and use those facilities to teach Media Studies, following the same argument?
No. That's precisely what he refused to do in the fees dedbate; he'd rather keep the quality of teaching than follow profit motives. Except in Wye, apparently, in spite of his assertions to the contarty in April.
Please feel free to add to this; for now I will move on to the next area.