Students at the London College of Communication staged a sit-in at the Elephant and Castle site this week in protest at course closures and cutbacks. The action followed a flash occupation of Head of College Sandra Kemp’s office last week by over 100 angry marketing students.
The actions are the latest manifestations of anger over a programme of course closures and compulsory redundancies that has simmered for months. College union the UCU claims management have not made the business case for the closures, have not followed consultative procedures, and are refusing to honour redundancy deals. The college says it has consulted properly, but staff who have been asked to present the case for their courses to continue after they have received notice that they are to be shut down are not convinced. The UCU has given notice of its intention to ballot for a strike.
It seems to me, as a visiting tutor, that this is a classic case of management testing the strength of the staff unions. There may well be a case for reorganisation, but it has not been clearly made, and it is the failure to follow set procedure – something there is no shortage of in academia – that is really stoking the fires. All this on top of constant battles to resource courses and the vast amounts of time wasted on basic administrative tasks because of the inability of one central department to properly communicate with another.
Latest developments, in which the leaders of the occupation are being threatened with disciplinary action after a heavy-handed move to quash the protests, don’t seem designed to calm troubled waters.
Note: I searched in vain for a link to post up which gave the college’s side of the story. There have been a number of carefully-worded staff memos, but nothing I can link to which would at least show the case the college claims to be making. It’s all about communication.