Thursday, 5 May 2011

London Met students - occupying to save arts education

This time last year Middlesex University won a name - a bad name - for itself when it decided to close its philosophy course. Students and staff waged an audacious campaign making the case for the value of learning about philosophy. They lost, unfortunately, ground down in part by legal action against their occupation.

There was a debate about tactics: the postgraduate research school took the chance to move to Kingston University (where they are thriving).

Now more arts and humanities teaching is going to the wall, as a result of the government cutting the funding for this area of study. In the wake of the government raising the cap on tuition fees, most universities are now charging the maximum £9,000 per annum to study for a first degree.

Many students who would have opted to study arts and humanities before have to think very hard now about whether they can afford to, and many universities are simply abandoning courses in these subjects. Like Middlesex University, London Metropolitan is scrambling to reposition itself as a predominantly business school. It has gone further than most, though, with its proposal to cut the courses available from 577 to 160, and possibly simply to transfer swathes of students to other institutions.

The unions are considering balloting for industrial action against the inevitable job losses. A group of students has taken the step of occupying the postgraduate school that looks onto Holloway Road. They have organised a teach-in this Saturday, from 10am-4pm - though if you want to go check before you set out because the occupation makes for a fluid situation. Below is the occupying students' press release.
70% of courses cut - London Metropolitan University occupied

The Graduate Centre of Holloway Road Campus is currently occupied by students in protest against Vice-Chancellor Malcolm Gillies’ decision to axe 70% of courses - including Performing Arts, Philosophy and History. Gillies’ decision came as a shock a couple of weeks ago.

None of the university teaching staff was consulted about the cuts. A majority of the excellent, dedicated tutors are under imminent threat of losing their jobs. Students already enrolled on the courses face an uncertain future. There have been rumours about transfers to other universities with which WE DO NOT AGREE. This statement is our call for help to save our university, our future and our dreams: to keep London Metropolitan University open to everyone, regardless of their social class, wealth and chosen subject of study. The purpose of this occupation is to present the Vice-Chancellor with our demands:


1) Meeting with Vice-Chancellor

2) Transparent process and direct communication

3) University management goes back to HEFCE to renegotiate repayment terms

4) Vice-Chancellor to accept proposals put forward by staff in HALE

5) University retracts decision of cuts of ALL courses

6) Students on existing courses which are being deleted, WILL NOT BE TRANSFERRED

7) Free access IN and OUT of the Occupation

8) No student is victimized following action taken to occupy the space.

There is no other university which offers such a wide range of courses as London Metropolitan. We do not want to be transferred. We are proud to be London Met. Help us save our university and our future.

Claire Locke: Student Union President Elect

Agnes Panasiuk, Daniel Sado: Performing Arts students




David Duff said...

You don't need a 'university' polytechnic to learn philosophy. Just go and buy a book or three, or even borrow them from your library - before it closes. I began years ago with "Teach Yourself Philosophy" which, even later, I appreciated as an excellent primer. The next thing you have to do is go somewhere and think. And you certainly do not need some useless pillock who can only get a job in a polytechnic!

Read and think, that's all.

Citizen Barnet said...

I think you are demonstrating the shortcomings of the method. But welcome back, anyway.