Lancaster University is planning to suspend its undergraduate music course for a year, following a drop in student applications. Students who have applied to study music there in 2013/14 will be asked to make alternative arrangements.

University authorities have argued that the year will give them an opportunity to assess the future direction of music at Lancaster, which could include ending the study of music as a single honours subject at undergraduate level.

CM has learned that staff redundancies are possible, although the university could not confirm either way as the proposals have yet to be ratified. Should the plans be accepted by university management, it is understood there will be a consultation process which will look at ways to avoid losing staff.

Music has been taught at Lancaster as a single honours programme for nearly 40 years. Current staff include French 20th-century music specialist Professor Deborah Mawer and the editor of the Journal of New Music Research, Dr Alan Marsden.

Many music courses across England have been experiencing a fall in student numbers this year, which has largely been explained by the rise in university tuition fees. Full-time undergraduates from the UK studying at Lancaster from 2013 will be charged the full £9,000 a year, although there is help available with the university’s £2.7m bursary and scholarship fund.

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: ‘This course has experienced significant decline in undergraduate applications in recent years and has reached a point that is unsustainable in terms of undergraduate activity.

‘The year’s suspension would allow time for a full discussion and assessment of options in respect to the future role of music at Lancaster, which will include the permanent laying down of the programme. It is not intended that the potential closure of BA (Hons) Music ends the study of music at Lancaster. The proposals ask that consideration be given to the feasibility to the incorporation of music/sound activities into the existing degree programmes of Art, Film and Theatre.’

Last November senior staff at the University of East Anglia voted to close its music department. Student campaigners collected more than 10,000 online signatures protesting against the decision, but no new undergraduates were admitted this year and the remaining students will complete their music degrees in 2014.