Withdrawal of the Counselling programme Withdrawal of the Counselling programme

 

Which courses are affected?

· Postgraduate Certificate in Person Centred Counselling Skills

· Postgraduate Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills

· Postgraduate Certificate in Focusing Oriented Therapy

· Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling (BACP accredited)

· MA in Counselling

 

The Postgraduate Certificate courses are part time and normally one year in duration, with current students due to complete their courses by October 2017.

The Postgraduate Diploma is normally one year in duration, with current students due to complete by October 2017. Those current students who wish to do so and who meet the progression criteria, will be able to transfer onto the MA in Counselling and complete Year 2 of the MA in 2017/18.

The MA in Counselling is a two-year course. Current Year 1 students will be able to progress to Year 2 in 2017/18 and will complete their courses in October 2018. Current Year 2 students will complete by October 2017.

 

Why are the courses being withdrawn?

The decision to withdraw the counselling courses was taken following a comprehensive review of the programme, which included the exploration of a number of options, none of which were judged to be viable.

The decision to withdraw the counselling programme was not taken lightly and does not reflect a negative view of the value of counselling to the wider community. Rather it reflects the School of Education and Lifelong Learning’s need for greater alignment of its courses and a more coherent portfolio of activity centred on the teaching of Education theory and practice.

As the above paragraph indicate, the decision to withdraw the courses was not based on financial viability alone. It was based on a range of factors.

 

What will happen to current students?

We have written to all current students and held meetings with groups of students to explain what is happening and how they will be affected. All current students will be able to complete their courses.

 

Will the withdrawal of the courses affect the counselling services available to UEA students from Student Support Services?

The counselling courses are separate from the UEA Counselling Service operated by Student Support Services. The UEA Counselling Service is not directly affected by this decision.

Some students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling do currently have placements with Student Support Services. The links between the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and the UEA Counselling Service were considered as part of the review, with the views of the Director of Student Services and the Head of Wellbeing being considered as part of the decision making process. The view was that a decision to withdraw the PGDip in Counselling would not have a detrimental impact on the UEA Counselling Service and the support that it offers students and staff. These support services are routinely reviewed and adjusted to take account of requirements and the best way of supporting these. Plans separately under consideration will shift the service towards different models of delivery, reflecting developments in counselling and the requirements for services to deliver evidence-based, cost-effective approaches.

The proposed changes will enhance Wellbeing Service provision, continuing to offer counselling alongside other modes of delivery. These changes would have resulted in further reductions in the number of placements available to PGDip students.

 

Will the withdrawal of these courses lead to fewer qualified counsellors, at a time when there is such a high demand for counselling services?

The decision to withdraw the counselling programme has not been taken lightly and does not reflect a negative view of the value of counselling to the wider community. Rather, it reflects the School of Education and Lifelong Learning’s need for greater realignment of its courses and a more coherent portfolio of activity centred around the teaching of Education theory and practice.

The Postgraduate Certificate courses did not lead to professional registration and did not involve a practice placement. The Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Year 1 of the MA in Counselling led to accreditation with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and students on these courses were required to complete 100 hours of supervised counselling. Numbers on the course were small, with some students undertaking placements in local counselling services.

We acknowledge that the withdrawal of the PGDip in Counselling will have an impact on the availability of student counsellors to these organisations and took this into consideration as part of our decision making process. On balance, however, we needed to make decisions based on the needs of the university and are hopeful that other providers locally and in the region will be able to fill the spaces left by the withdrawal of the UEA courses.

There are a number of different approaches to mental health and wellbeing. UEA continues to be committed to training those who can make a difference in mental health provision. UEA continues to provide training and education for professionals in a range of mental health related fields, including clinical psychology courses, High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner courses.

 

Are the courses being withdrawn due to low demand?

The decision to withdraw the courses took into account a number of factors and reflects the School of Education and Lifelong Learning’s need for greater alignment of its courses and a more coherent portfolio of activity centred on the teaching of Education theory and practice. One of the factors considered during the review process was the relatively low number of applications and registrations on all the courses. Numbers on all of the courses we are withdrawing have been in decline and there have been occasions in recent years when some counselling courses have not been delivered because of low numbers.

 

Will the withdrawal of the programme affect UEA’s research work?

The teaching staff for these courses are not involved in externally funded research projects and do not contribute to the Research Excellence Framework. The School of Education and Lifelong Learning is developing a strategy of focusing activities that combine teaching and research focused on Educational theory and practice.

 

What about the Centre for Counselling Studies and UEA’s reputation for Person Centred Counselling?

The Centre of Counselling Studies has not formally existed since 2012 (as distinct from the UEA Counselling Service, which is a separate entity).

The legacy of the Centre for Counselling Studies was considered as part of the review and decision-making processes.

There have been small numbers of students on all the affected courses, with low volumes of applications for all. The number of international student applications has been in decline, with only a small number of students registering in the past 5 years.

For some years, the School of Education and Lifelong Learning has not been active in research in the field of counselling. The teaching staff for these courses do not produce published research, are not involved in externally funded research projects and do not contribute to the Research Excellence Framework. The School of Education and Lifelong Learning has not been able to provide supervision for doctoral students for several years.

We are aware that very few providers offer courses in Person Centred Counselling, both nationally and locally (The Norwich Centre being the obvious exception). There were a range of factors informing our decision to withdraw these courses and UEA is no longer able to support courses in Person Centred Counselling.

Whilst UEA does offer professional training in a range of other approaches to mental wellbeing, the decision to withdraw courses in Person Centred Counselling has not been taken in order to focus on different kinds of therapy. The Person Centred Counselling courses are located within the School of Education and Lifelong Learning and the decision to withdraw these courses is to assist the School in focusing its activity on Education theory and practice. Any decisions to increase numbers or activity in relation to other kinds of therapies or mental health courses will be taken by the relevant Schools in response to demand and other relevant factors.

 

Why can’t students currently on the Postgraduate Certificate courses register for the Postgraduate Diploma in 2017/18?

The Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Counselling Skills is a stand-alone qualification.

Our marketing materials state that the PGCert in Person-Centred Counselling Skills could prepare individuals for a Diploma in Counselling (but not specifically the UEA Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling) and provide a good foundation for those who might wish to go on to apply for a Diploma course.

Our marketing and recruitment information is clear that there is no progression between the PGCert in Person Centred Counselling and the Postgraduate Diploma at UEA. Any student who completes this or another UEA Postgraduate Certificate course in counselling would have to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma and go through a competitive selection process before an offer would be made. Not all students who complete the PGCert in Person Centred Counselling go on to apply or register for the Postgraduate Diploma.

Students can still apply for a Diploma in Counselling course with an alternative provider.

The review of the programme explored a number of options, including consideration of whether the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling could continue as a stand-alone course and whether to deliver the PGDip in Counselling to one final cohort in 2017/18. The review identified that neither of these was a viable option. As we have advertised the MA in Counselling as a progression route from the PGDip in Counselling, we would have to commit to delivering both the PGDip in Counselling and Year 2 of the MA in Counselling. The quality of the student experience is very important to us and we have sought to protect the quality of course delivery and of the learning experience in the plans for students to complete their current courses. We would not be able to guarantee the quality of this experience if the PGDip were to be delivered in 2017/18.

Student data indicate that not all students on the Postgraduate Certificate courses opt to apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and that of those who have done so in the past, some may apply for the Postgraduate Diploma two or more years after completing a Postgraduate Certificate. Of those who do apply, not all are successful in gaining a place on the course through the recruitment and selection process.

 

Why can Postgraduate Diploma and MA students progress to Year 2 if the Postgraduate Certificate students cannot register for the Postgraduate Diploma?

The Postgraduate Certificates in Person-Centred Counselling, in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Skills and in Focusing Oriented Psychotherapy are stand-alone qualifications, which are completed within one academic year. Whilst we state in our marketing materials that these courses might provide a good preparation for further study such as a Diploma, such further courses are separate and individuals would need to apply for a Diploma course, either at UEA or elsewhere. As a university we do not have an obligation to deliver any subsequent courses to students once they complete their current course.

In contrast, the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling is co-taught with Year 1 of the MA in Counselling and our marketing materials indicate that students on the PGDip may transfer onto the MA programme at any point. Students on the MA in Counselling are registered on a two-year course and we therefore have an obligation to deliver Year 2 of the MA course in 2017/8. As this 2nd year of the course will be running we are able to allow students on the PGDip in Counselling to transfer to the MA in Counselling and complete Year 2 in 2017/8 alongside the currently registered MA students.

 

Why were students not told about the review of the courses earlier?

It was not appropriate to inform students that the courses were under review until a decision had been made. We must work within a legal and regulatory framework when decisions could impact the employment of staff. This is a confidential process so there were constraints in respect of what we could disclose prior to a formal decision being made. Furthermore, if the review had not concluded with a decision to close the courses we would have caused unnecessary uncertainty and upset to students and might have jeopardised the future success of courses by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty.

 

Why were applicants not told about the review earlier?

We informed all applicants that the courses had been withdrawn as soon as a decision had been made and once affected staff had been informed. At the point that applications were received and processed, all the information available to applicants and potential applicants was correct.

 

Will UEA be reconsidering its decision in the light of comments from students and other stakeholders?

The decision to withdraw the counselling programme was not taken lightly and followed a comprehensive review and decision-making process. The issues raised by students and other stakeholders had already been taken into consideration during the review process. The review and decision-making process considered a range of options, including those put forward by students and other stakeholders since the announcement of the decision. None of the options considered and subsequently reiterated by stakeholders, was judged to be viable.

 

UEA's official statement can be found here.