University of Derby axes courses from Buxton campus

The Devonshire Dome at the University of Derby
The Devonshire Dome at the University of Derby

The University of Derby has made a shock announcement that some courses will be stopped or relocated from its Buxton campus over the next three years.

University courses in hospitality, tourism and events management will relocate to its Derby campus from 2020, with culinary arts students making the same move from 2021.

Spa management and outdoor courses in Buxton will close in 2022, once all current students have graduated, reflecting a shift within these sectors to more industry-led qualifications which has led to a steady decline in student numbers over recent years.

A parent of one Buxton student said the news, announced on Wednesday, was worrying.

They said: “If no students are being taken on at Buxton, and the lecturers are splitting their time between two campuses, how can students at either site have the best possible academic journey?”

The university insisted it was committed to the town and Buxton and Leek College, which has been part of the university since 2013.

Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, said: “We are proud to be an integral part of Buxton and a key partner in supporting the town’s long-term growth and ambition.”

The university is continuing to work with High Peak Borough Council and was part of recent successful bids to secure funding for the town from both the Future High Streets Fund and the Heritage Action Zone initiative. 

These two projects have the potential to be a catalyst for the next phase of economic growth for Buxton, it said.

Going forward the university will be focusing on industry-led qualifications as ‘there is potential to maximise the industrial strengths of the town and surrounding area for us to pursue’.

Coun Anthony McKeown, Leader of High Peak Borough Council, said: “The university plays an important role in both supporting our plans for Buxton town centre and safeguarding the Devonshire Dome and I look forward to strengthening our partnership.”

Professor Todd added: “We need to work in partnership with local stakeholders to seek out appropriate opportunities for using the Devonshire Dome, which has significant potential to attract more high profile national and international events, and the university is developing an ambitious plan to achieve this.”

A statement on the Buxton & Leek College website stressed further education provision was continuing from the Devonshire Dome campus, with the publication of its 2020/21 prospectus earlier this week.

“Further education has a long tradition in Buxton, dating back to 1955 with the establishment of High Peak College, and Buxton & Leek College continues to grow and strengthen this provision,” the statement added.

“We anticipate that the transfer of higher education to Derby will not limit any new local opportunities for the college and its engagement with the communities of Buxton but will allow us to provide more tailored support for further education students, matched to their unique requirements.”

High Peak MP Ruth George said: “I am glad to see the University of Derby’s continued commitment to Buxton. I’ve been helping the university to link up with local employers and I look forward to seeing the provision they have planned to help boost skills and training in Buxton.

“It is always sad to see courses relocated, especially the hospitality and culinary arts courses which are a centre of excellence, but I hope that the new courses will benefit more local young people and help them to gain the education and skills they need here in High Peak.”