Pics from the London Met Teach-In

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Open the books! We need clarity and transparency!

As we’ve already mentioned on this blog, it appears to make no financial sense to cut attractive and established courses out of the University’s academic portfolio. We demand transparency and clarification as to the financial basis for these decisions. This demand should be treated as a matter of urgency.

It has come to our attention that the build up to the decision was relatively complicated and largely down to the systematic mis-management by the (now) ex-Dean, Roddy Gallacher. His negligence of HALE’s finances has led to wide justification in cutting most of its courses, decimating it and effectively getting rid of the faculty altogether. We have become aware that there has been months of mis-management and neglect by Roddy Gallacher, who actually took early retirement just a few weeks ago. HALE is currently in the care of DASS’s Dean.

The mis-management of HALE by Prof Gallacher has been systematic and unchallenged for a long time. He never once issued budgets for courses, which left staff unaware of how expensive their courses were and whether they should ever have made savings. He gave everyone in the department the impression that everything was OK and that courses were not gonig to be cut. These lies are shameful and are now proving massively destructive as a result.

The VC must take responsibility for Gallacher’s actions. He cannot pass the buck, as he has overall responsibility for the finances and academic reputation of this institution. Being a man with an education in an Art (Music) and a Humanities (Classics) subject, he must stand up and protect these subjects, as a matter of priniciple. He must protect these subjects and not let London Met reject its diversity for a ‘no frills’ approach. If London Met scraps its diverse educational offer, it will cease to be an instution worthy of our collective pride and care. If Prof Gillies is ‘Proud to be London Met’, he must protect its strongest asset: diversity.

It is now time to answer some real questions. We need to have clarity and transparency as to why HALE faces such drastic cuts. Why did HALE allegedly cost the University £12m in internal admin costs, when other departments cost just half that amount? Where are these figures coming from, and are they real?

Staff have been told that the decision has already been made to end courses, and that the deadline to submit courses to UCAS for applicants wanting to study in 2011/12 has now ended. However, this has yet to be confirmed and it is our understanding that the deadline has not yet passed. If the deadline is not yet gone, the decision should be reversed.

Prof Malcolm Gillies, the Vice-Chancellor of London Met, must act now. If he delays any longer, the UCAS deadline may well pass us by. It is imperative that he over-rules the decisions taken by the ex-Dean Roddy Gallacher, and re-instate HALE as a significant and properly structured department. It is no good for him to pass the buck and shrug his shoulders saying, ‘it’s not my fault, I shouldn’t have to micro-manage the Dean’s responsibilities’. Yes, we agree, but in certain situations, Professor, you must take command and overturn certain decisions, especially when cuts such as these proposed do not have a clear financial basis and will decimate the University’s culture, reputation, educational offer and the lives of both staff and students.

It is our belief that it will prove to be massively short-sighted to axe such important and significant courses. You must not abide by the government’s imposed ‘rigid timeframe’ and make sure these cuts are stopped now. We demand you open the books and provide clarity and transparency in the financial proposals to cut so many Humanities, Arts, Languages and Education courses.

More info to follow – obviously this is a complicated situation.

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Full Length Occupation Song Midnight Performance

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First pictures from inside the occupation!!!

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Education NOT Privatisation

The FINAL programme for tomorrow is online:

http://www.londonmetunison.org.uk/2011/04/we-are-london-met-education-not-privatisation/

And our statement is also now live:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/support-london-metropolitan-university/

see you tomorrow!

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Yesterday’s Lunchtime Occupation Rally

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Graduate Centre Upgrade

This morning the University requested access to the occupied Grad Centre for technicians and media contractors. They are getting the media equipment in the GC upgraded. This will include things like upgrading the projector and sound system, probably at significant cost. The occupiers have agreed to facilitate this access.

Unfortunately however, as far as we are aware, this area is not actually used for teaching. It is mostly used for internal and external events. It is a disgrace that so substantial funds are spent on upgrades to areas that are already high-spec, designer areas of the university, when there are plenty of teaching areas that don’t even have media facilities. We do not have exact figures yet, but it is likely to be thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of pounds. Obvioulsy, it is not just the equipment that costs money, but the expertise required to install it. Since this was outsourced by University Management, external companies can charge what they like and the University just has to pay up. This follows the same pattern as University Maintenance, carried out by MITIE. Allegedly, MITIE once charged the University approximately £1000 to open a window.

This pattern of outsourcing is madness and is an underlying and constant strain on University funds.

The Graduate Centre is being used more by students during this occupation than ever before! This building is the corporate face of the University and it is appropriate that students make use of it, while they still are in attendance at London Metropolitan.

It is a disgrace that media upgrades such as these are costing us such significant amounts of money. That money would be better spent on salaries for lecturers and support staff.

We understand that the existing (pretty high end stuff already) will be recycled through the ISS department and may find its way to another area of the University.

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Assessments, Exams and Submissions

Just a quick note to say GOOD LUCK to all students doing their assessments today and in the coming weeks. Lots of LURVE!!!

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Today’s Media coverage

Listen to the occupying students on BBCLondon Radio here: http://tinyurl.com/6cb7k3v from 49mins onwards.

Read the Evening Standard’s report on the occupation here:
http://tinyurl.com/69cuukf

REMEMBER: to come to the Teach-In on Saturday from 10-4pm. A day of Alternative Education by UCU, UNISON and MET-SU. Special Stuff. Please join us!

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Occupation still going strong

So we’ve been occupying for 36hours now. Phew! Feels like much longer!!! 🙂

All the support has been really really touching. Thank you for all your love and solidarity.

It is important to stress what is going on…

In case you’re unaware, the University plans to cut 70% of the courses being offered at London Met. This is a clear, ideological attack on Higher Education. The Government’s decision to cut the HE budget by 40% is having very real, and devastating effects on the ground. For somewhere like London Met that is heavily subsidised, the impact is obviously worse. People’s lives, both students and staff, are currently being turned upside-down. Hundreds of redundancies are in process.

But it’s interesting, because the courses that are being cut include History, Philosophy, Performing Arts, Languages, Trade Union Studies and Carribean Studies. Students choose to come to London Met to do these courses because of the fantastic tuition offered on these courses. They each have a long and rich tradition at this institution and it is a scandal that the University plans to axe them completely. It is our understanding that no other institution in the UK even offers Carribean Studies.

The message is very clear. London Met as we know it is changing. It will become increasingly business-orientated in its delivery of education as well as its educational offer. It will not provide the broad range of subjects to its applicants any longer. You will have a choice of 160 and that’s it. Instead of using its current diversity to contribute to the vision of being ‘Proud to be London Met’ and as a marketing tool, it’s likely that the proposed cuts will do the opposite. Deleting courses that attract students to an institution does not make any financial sense!

These cuts are therefore ideological, not logical. This is a time of real and severe crisis at London Met. It is important that people get behind this campaign and come down in person to support.

On Saturday there will be a ‘Teach-in’, a day of Alternative Education. This is the first event of its kind at London Met, and will be a key moment to co-ordinate and mobilise a national campaign. We really need to make this massive.

Thank you for your support.
Peace, love and solidarity.

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