GUCU letter to College Council Members: We urge intervention to stop cuts to Student Facing Services

Dear Council Members,

We write as Goldsmiths UCU to register our concern and opposition to the restructuring of Professional Services, and in particular the cuts to Student Facing Services (SFS), which will be a detriment to the whole of the Goldsmiths community – not only our colleagues in Professional Services but our students and academic staff.

While we support greater efficiency, accountability and transparency in the delivery of services, we do not believe that the restructuring will lead to a consistent administrative service for our students, nor will it make better use of our existing systems, as outlined in Recovery Briefing Note 17 issued on 17 August 2021 to all staff. We believe this Professional Services Blueprint represents a serious lack of vision from SMT and we urge Council to request that SMT reconsiders its position.

We have learned that SFS will be centralised, that the roles of senior administrative staff based in Departments will be abolished, along with a number of other administrative staff, and that the proposals rely on untested HR and IT systems. Fewer staff with less expertise in specific programmes and disciplines will ultimately result in significantly reduced student and staff support. Our members are already raising concerns about the consequences of such changes. We believe the changes will:

–       Increase the workload of academic staff by needing to compensate for reduced support from administrative staff

–       Undermine the ability of academic staff to deliver a high-quality education

–       Cause confusion amongst students about where and how to access support

–       Generate serious reputational damage to Goldsmiths

–       Increase staff and student dissatisfaction

–       Accrue more financial problems in the future if potential students are turned away from Goldsmiths by poor student surveys

–       Create greater institutional instability over time

Moreover, we are concerned about the process by which these cuts are being made, as SMT has announced these changes to SFS in mid-August, while consultations with staff are only happening at the end of September. This goes against SMT’s commitment to provide meaningful consultation throughout the restructuring.

While we continue to gather the views of our members, we urge Council to intervene to stop this damaging restructuring. We are also currently discussing what actions we can take as GUCU to mobilise our members against these proposals.

GUCU officers