FIGHT ELITISM: Stand With Community Development &Youth Work At Goldsmiths College

(Downloadable PDF version of this letter available here)

Background

  • The management team of the Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies Department (STaCS), have launched an unprecedented attack on the part time staff of its highly successful BA Degree in Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work (BAASSCD&YW) – the only remaining full time community and youth work degree in London 2016-17.
  • Over the past two years the programme has recruited increased numbers of students and as a result, has generated a substantial increase in levels of income.
  • Under the guise of a ‘staff restructure’ management are proposing to use these resources to replace a diverse group of up to 6 part-time staff with 2-3 full time staff who are either engaged in doctoral level research or who have completed a PhD, in order to meet departmental research priorities, in particular to improve grant capture and REF ratings.
  • The BAASSCD&YW course, which has a student cohort of 81% BME students, is being singled out as these departmental research priorities are not being applied across the department.
  • The students are outraged, as they are already challenging management for cutting their contact hours from over 200 hours to 120 hours per year.

 BA programme strengths – values and ethos

The Programme was thoroughly revised last year and has also undergone internal reviews and external National Youth Agency reviews this year – all have highlighted that academic rigour, equality and social justice and relevant professional practice are embedded in the programme and praised the existing diverse staff team, for example;

  • ..changes will strengthen what is already a well-regarded BA Programme…The continued commitment of the teaching staff will be vital in ensuring its future (BA Review Final Report, 2016)
  • The programme team were praised for their academic, community engagement, current practice (NYA Validation Report 2016 section 7, p9)

Both past and present students, also appreciate the diversity of the current staff team’s academic expertise and interests along with their up to date and relevant professional practice.

  • NSS results 2016 show; overall satisfaction (95%); the course is intellectually stimulating (95%); staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching (95%); staff have made subject interesting (100%).

Students comments about the programme:

‘I have enjoyed the passion the lecturers have shown for their subjects and the support they have offered. Intellectually prompting lectures,…would recommend this course to everyone and anyone.

The group training has helped me to develop both personally and practically. Lecturers are passionate about teaching and about their own continued work within youth and community.

The CD&YW course has really challenged me to think differently and equipped me with skills to be an effective practitioner.

The tutors have been very supportive.’ (NSS, 2016)

Potential impact

STaCS restructure proposal departs from Goldsmiths organisational change policy – management refuse to job match as staff are not on teaching and research contracts and they are not trying meaningfully to mitigate against redundancy. The restructure is being vigorously challenged by academic staff, students (via the college Student Union) and Goldsmiths University and College Union (GUCU) members – industrial action is likely.

  • Management have presented a flawed rationale and no evidence that the recruitment of such staff on this professionally endorsed degree programme will improve the quality of teaching and learning, or enhance students’ overall experience.
  • The imposition of this untimely and totally unexpected management proposal will disrupt the progress of existing students and those students entering the revised programme
  • It will have an overwhelming negative impact on BME staff and BME students who comprise 81%
  • It disregards long-standing, highly regarded academic and professional skills and expertise of existing staff
  • It represents a trend in HE which must be resisted.

Support Requested from Stakeholders

We urge the BAASSCDYW wider community of stakeholders, who have supported the programme over several years, to write to the Warden, (Patrick Loughrey, email: warden@ gold.ac.uk) expressing concern that part time staff are unnecessarily under the threat of redundancies and the potential impact on the programme, recommending that the existing staff (who have been repeatedly refused time to pursue research activities), should be supported to pursue research activities and should be valued and retained. We would also ask that you send a copy and messages of support to gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk.

Keep up to date with news and further actions:

https://goldsmiths.org @Goldsmithsucu #fightelitism #standwithcdyw

Campaign Materials:

PDF copies of this campaign letter are available here

Fight Elitism Campaign flyers are also available – email gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk if you would like us to send you some

STACS RESTRUCTURE: Members Urge Management To Halt Proposals

UCU members packed into a very well attended emergency meeting today (Thursday 13 June 2017) to discuss defending members and jobs in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STACS).  This is a response to the proposed restructuring of the BA Applied Social Science Community Development and Youth Work – a highly successful course run by an excellent and experienced team of staff some of whose jobs are now at risk. At the meeting GUCU members passed the following motion unanimously.

Potential redundancies in STACS

Motion passed unanimously at GUCU EGM 13 July 2017

Goldsmiths UCU branch wishes to express its concerns about the ongoing consultation over the proposed restructuring of the BA Applied Social Science Community Development and Youth Work in the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.  This is a highly successful programme, with experienced and dedicated staff, which has been praised by internal and external reviews in the last 12 months. Yet the restructure is likely to lead to redundancies of several part-time staff.

We do not consider this process to be an example of meaningful consultation as in college policies related to managing organisational change.

  1. The original rationale for the restructure that was communicated to the SMT has now changed. In any case the UCU officers and at-risk staff consider both the initial and revised rationales to be flawed and lacking in evidence.
  2. The consultation process has departed from agreed procedures for organisation change.
  3. There has there been, up to this point, no effort to avoid or mitigate the risk of redundancies.

We therefore urge management:

  1. To halt this restructure proposal in the best interests of the programme, students and staff;
  2. To give assurances that all the colleagues currently employed will remain in post to teach on the BA with increased hours where necessary;
  3. To also provide colleagues, as appropriate, with increased hours for opportunities to engage in research and to undertake PhD study.

If management refuse to suspend the consultation, then the branch will consider what action is appropriate to defend members’ interests.

  1. This branch will support industrial action in defence of its members.
  2. This branch will Instigate a campaign to inform wider stakeholders and the student body