13 December 2023
The University of Northampton has decided that it cannot continue to develop new generations of technologists for the global leather industry at its Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT), reports Leatherbiz.
In September, it launched a formal consultation on the future of the ICLT. It announced the conclusion of that consultation on December 11 and said it had made the decision to stop offering leather as a subject area.
Following the consultation, which it said it had conducted with external and internal stakeholders, the university has concluded that leather will not be able to attract sufficient income to justify its inclusion among the courses it offers.
It said it had made the decision to close the leather subject area with regret. It explained that there had been “an extended period of severe decline in student numbers” and that it had “cross-subsidised” its leather courses for several years through links with other parts of the university.
Against what it called “a backdrop of a fall in home and international student demand for this subject, the economic downturn, and rising energy prices”, it said it could no longer continue to do this. It mentioned the UK’s exit from the European Union in 2020 as one of the reasons, saying this had discouraged students from European Union member states, notably from Italy, from going to Northampton to study.
Teaching for its leather courses will continue until the summer of 2025 and the university has said it will draw up a plan to make sure students already enrolled can complete their studies. It added that it was also in discussion with members of staff whose jobs will be affected.
On announcing the decision to close the ICLT, the University of Northampton’s vice-chancellor (its principal academic and administrative figure), Anne-Marie Kilday, commented: “There are strong and lasting associations between Northampton and leather, and our research is world-leading. However, the cost of teaching declining student numbers can no longer justify cross-subsidy from other areas of the university, especially at a time that the whole sector is struggling financially.”