Campus closures, course cuts & redundancies at London Metropolitan University
Stop the attack on educational opportunities
Yet again the East End is seeing valued public educational assets trashed and centres flogged off to the private property sector. London Met has campuses in Whitechapel/Aldgate and Moorgate in the city. Its new Vice Chancellor has announced its intention to close these, sell off the Commercial Road and prized site of the CASS arts and architecture faculty in Whitechapel and to squeeze what little remains into one campus in Holloway. But one size does not fit all and courses in Holloway are now being axed in part, it is believed, to create space for this move.
Staff and student unions London Metropolitan University were quick to condemn this latest twist in the university’s downward spiral of its decline. Although university management want to portray the plan ‘as an exciting new £125m investment strategy’, the spin cannot conceal this venture cannot be funded by the sale of property alone and will mean significant further reductions in staff and course closures.
Staff and student unions believe uprooting the CASS from its historic location in the east end would be a catastrophic mistake. Facilities, courses, students and staff are very likely to be lost in the process as will a century long association with the area.
Students have launched a public campaign to defend their East London campuses, and as part of that they have launched an on-line petition that has rapidly gained signatures.
Please sign the petition and share the link
UCU, the lecturers union had this to say in a letter to the Times Education Supplement
We wish to register our dismay at Vice-Chancellor Raftery's asset-stripping, course-closing, job-cutting plan for London Metropolitan University, which has been spun to the press, staff and students as a 'one campus, one community' investment programme ['London Met to focus teaching on single campus, Times Higher Education, Oct 12 2015].
The backlash has been almost immediate. Despite the VC's claim of Students Union support, the SU representative in the renowned CASS arts faculty placed her objections online within a couple of hours of the announcement, followed soon after by a petition that now has some 2,000 signatures. Students have also made clear their objections in well-attended meetings at the university. The purpose-built CASS, located opposite the Whitechapel Art Gallery, only recently received substantial investment but is now to be closed and those staff who are retained will be moved to the north London campus. The local press have reported that Tower Hamlets' Mayor, John Biggs, is "furious" at the plan. Various people in the arts world have voiced their outrage.
But the planned reduction in student numbers by almost 3,000 to a maximum of 10,000 means course cuts across the university, the first of which have just been announced, including CASS's entire cluster of music courses and its Music Technology and Musical Instruments programmes, the latter being the last instrument-making BSc course in the country. Needless to say, this has happened without consulting those affected. Given the failure of similar 'cut-to-succeed, get rich quick schemes' over the last nine years we are forced to restate our belief that for London Met to survive and thrive our senior management need to escape the bonds of their collective 'downsizing' agenda.
We call on our Board of Governors to intervene immediately, halt the sale of the CASS building and these precipitous course closures, and work with us and our members to develop a realistic forward-looking plan for a 'two-campus' estate. This should maintain and grow our significant arts and design presence in Aldgate, whilst ensuring appropriate investment in our current Holloway Road estate. We believe London Met can flourish - even in such a hostile education landscape, but to do so will require an entirely new management mindset that embraces the dedication and expertise of the staff that represent the heart and soul of London Met and its historic social justice and widening participation mission.
1. Times Higher - 'London Met to focus teaching on single campus', 12/10/15
2. Guardian - 'Killing the Cass would be a tragedy for British design', 18/10/15
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