Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Student Occupation at London Metropolitan University

This from the Students who are occupying:

To Whom It May Concern:

As of 17:00 on Monday 11th May 2009, a large group of students from London Metropolitan University’s John Cass department of Art, Media & Design began occupation of part of the Commercial Road building located at 41 Commercial Road, London E1 1LA in protest to university management’s plans for imminent and unprecedented staff redundancies. These redundancies are the result of a drastic funding cut by HEFCE of £15m per year, as well as a ‘clawback’ of a further £36.5m, which have been imposed due to inaccurate submission of attendance figures. Under the rules, students are identified as non-completions if they do not take the final assessment of each module.

As a result of these unprecedented cuts, the Sir John Cass Department for Art, Media & Design is posed to be hit particularly hard, with projected job losses of over 50% in many subject fields. Examples of proposed job losses in specific subject fields are as follows:
· Musical Instruments – 2 out of 4 posts (Full-time Equivalent)
· Silversmithing & Jewellery – 3 from 7.8 staff (Full-time Equivalent)
· Furniture, Product & Upholstery – 5 from 11 staff (Full-time Equivalent)
· Polymer Technology – 2 from 5.5 staff (Full-time Equivalent)
· Media & Music Technology – 1.5 from 18 staff (Full-time Equivalent)
· Technicians: 15 from 30 in the department as a whole

It is worth pointing out that a significant proportion of these staff are employed on a part-time basis (for example in the furniture department alone there are 5 tutors classified as part-time). Part-time staff are counted as 0.5 full-time equivalent posts, so the actual teaching deficit created by these redundancies will have a profound and devastating effect on current courses. These redundancies could potentially come into effect before teaching begins for the 09/10 Autumn semester.

These teaching cuts have been planned despite Secretary of Universities John Denham calling for savings to be made in administration costs, rather than the core university business of teaching and research. Mr Denham has also recently called for universities across the country to offer more vocational degrees. It would appear to LMU students that management is not listening to government and forging ahead with plans which will almost certainly spell the end for many high-quality vocational degrees.

Up until this point senior management have relayed almost no information on proposed redundancies and cutbacks to students, creating an air of distress and frustration. Many students are unsure whether they wish to continue their courses with so much uncertainty, it is expected that most students will not know the outcome of next years teaching until they return at the beginning of the Autumn semester.

Today’s student occupation is the result of growing anger amongst students who feel their education is under severe and imminent threat. They are calling for the Higher Education Funding Council for England to intervene and engage with LMU management, who they believe lack vision and inspiration to sustainably weather the financial storm currently surrounding the university. They are also calling for management at the Sir John Cass Department for Art, Media & Design (i.e. Brian Falconbridge & David Butler) to engage in constructive discussion directly with students, regarding ways in which the severity of staff redundancies can be lessened.

At it’s April board meeting, HEFCE agreed that “if the recovery of overpaid grant had very significant financial implications for a higher education institution, then, on a case-by-case basis, HEFCE might work with it to develop an investment proposal founded on the need to achieve systemic change that repositioned the institution, thus strengthening the future sustainability of its provision”. The students of London Metropolitan University are now calling on HEFCE to act on its word, as the only possible outcome of management’s current planned redundancies will be to have a devastating effect on the frontlines of higher education- namely students and teachers.

Armed with modern technologies the occupying students will be giving regular updates of their progress via Twitter, their campaign can be followed at www.twitter.com/savelondonmet

Further information on the financial crisis facing London Metropolitan University can be found by visiting www.lmuucu.org.uk or www.savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com

Or contact savelondonmet@gmail.com for further information.


UPDATE 12/5/09

At 22:30 last night, management's initial reaction was to call police on the occupying students in an attempt to have them forcibly removed. Fortunately for the students they were unable to do anything and the occupation continues. For further information and regularly updated photos, please go to www.twitter.com/savelondonmet


  1. Staff need your (student) support. Together, you will be able to save London Met and make it a better place for all.

    Well done & good luck!

    From a retired London Met academic.

  2. We have to fight this together. I applaud you and your actions. Thank you for doing this.

    from a Senior Lecturer at the Cass

  3. good luck and don't let management's bullying tactics intimidate you. The Police shouldn't even be involved at this stage as this is a civil dispute between you and management, so any attepmt to remove you without going through the courts could well be illegal

  4. I think we have to invoke the spirit of 1968 here. The students of Paris occupied against an implacable management and police power and they won major reforms.You can take courage by looking at what has been achieved in the past against overwhelming odds.
    Keep up the challenge!

  5. Bravo! I salute your direct action and agree with others when they say you must not be intimidated by bad management. I fully support what you are asking for and hope that those certain few at LMU will make efforts to explain their actions while listening to others for advice.

  6. Well done to all involved! I was involved in the University of Sheffield occupation where one of our demands was No job/wage cuts and no to poor working conditions for the staff at our uni, unfortunately we didn't succeed on that demand, however, best of luck to you all! Solidarity between students and workers!

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