Full statement by Goldsmiths UCU on the “closure” of Evolving Goldsmiths

The Warden announced, in an email to all staff on 22 April, the “closure” of the Evolving Goldsmiths programme and the development of a “recovery plan” to face up to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are very pleased to hear that the College has finally decided to terminate a course of action that was imposed on staff and that had become increasingly toxic. We have rarely seen such a degree of unity as there was in the widespread opposition to EG and we are hugely grateful to all those people inside and outside the College who made it clear that they did not share the top-down vision of the EG programme.

We are however concerned – and rather mystified – that the consultation on line management changes to DBMs and HoD responsibilities will continue until the end of its published date in May. This will involve yet more time and energy on a programme that has been discredited and is a distraction from the far more pressing tasks we want to press on with.

We believe that the closure of Evolving Goldsmiths should mean precisely that: the end of the consultation, the end of the workstreams, the end of the proposed change to College Ordinances, and the immediate suspension of expensive capital projects like the Enterprise Hub. Scrapping a programme is meaningless if essential features of the programme can resurface under another name.

We hope that SMT will learn some of the lessons of the last few months and that any “recovery plan” will be drawn up and implemented in collaboration with the College community and will be informed by other proposals including the Alternative Goldsmiths document. That means a commitment to financial transparency and full staff participation both in the design and execution of any plan.

We also hope that SMT will focus its attention on lobbying government at a national level to put in place a rescue package for the sector and to secure a new settlement for HE after Covid-19.

As we have said from the start, we are not opposed to change and recognise the challenges we face. But we want to see a compassionate and collaborative approach to securing a healthy future for staff and students at Goldsmiths.