The University of Wales at Newport has closed its degree level Games Development & A.I. programme, effective immediately - citing financial and political reasons.
The course was expected to see an increase in applications in the 2011 academic year, thanks to exposure from events such as the Global Game Jam and coverage in specialist press, recruitment for any this year and beyond has been halted. The university claims that between 35 and 71 per cent of graduates from the course found relevant industry jobs each year.
Emergency cuts imposed by the government, and filtered down via the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, meant that a 5 per cent reduction in student numbers was necessary for the 2011 academic year - on top of a 50 per cent cut in clearing admissions. All Computing Awards, excluding Forensic Computing, have been proposed for permanent withdrawal at Newport.
The Games Development & A.I. BSc was a casualty of these cuts, but hope does perhaps lie on the horizon in the refocusing of some of the country's funding for school leavers.
These cuts apply to undergraduate programs, but Newport has a been encouraged to apply for funding in the area of foundation degrees, with the heavily vocational Games Development & A.I. course being seen as a solid applicant for this status, especially in the light of the shortfalls identified by the Livingstone Hope review.
The plan is currently in the hands of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, with the new Creative Technology and Games foundation degree due to start in 2012 if funding is granted. If it is, the new course would see a higher level of integration with relevant local business and potentially a much more focused approach to game development.