In all areas of research, business, and institutional services, specialization is becoming more and more common. Universities are responding to stated demand from students for qualifications that serve the needs of specialized jobs. Mr. Humphries recently visited three universities in the UK that offer what one of them calls “niche degrees”. These degrees deal with a relatively narrow slice of a given subject area and are tailored to the needs of small groups of students. For example, at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh there are four different degree programmes in the Drama Department: Costume Design & Construction, Drama and Performance, Stage and Screen, and Acting for Stage and Screen. Each degree (‘course’) serves the needs of a specific, relatively small group of students. At Manchester Metropolitan University, there are niche degrees in Ecology and Conservation, Environment and Enterprise, and Evironmental Health. The university has a major sustainability programme in development, a program that includes power generation using photo-voltaic cells on the exterior of one of the major buildings on campus (see photo). At Glasgow Caledonian University, niche degrees include Human Biosciences, Applied Biomedical Science, Human Biology with Sociology & Psychology, and Forensic Investigation. Students who want highly-competent instruction in very specific study areas would do well to investigate these three UK universities and their very specialized offerings. All three offer superb student services in new, state-of-the-art buildings.
The skin of the building (right) is 100% photo-voltaic cells, which supply its power.