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

UCU CONGRESS 2017: Report from the GUCU President, Marian Carty

Goldsmiths UCU General Meeting: Rescheduled.

We have now rescheduled our UCU General Meeting in light of the Tackling Sexual Harassment, Violence and Misconduct workshop on the 12th June. Members are welcome to join us on the following date and time, we hope to see you all there!
 
Date: 14th June
Time: 17:00-18:00
Room: RHB 137.
 
Open to all UCU members – If you are not already a member – Join us! https://join.ucu.org

Tackling Sexual Harassment, Violence and Misconduct Workshop Day 12th June

GUCU is postponing the General Meeting on the 12th June because of the staff training that Goldsmiths has organised (please see below).

We will keep you up to date with any rescheduled dates.

An important workshop on Tackling Sexual Harassment, Violence and Misconduct will take place on 12th June in the Great Hall at Goldsmiths.

You can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tackling-sexual-harassment-v…
Tackling Sexual Harassment, Violence and Misconduct Workshop Day
www.eventbrite.co.uk
OPEN TO ALL STAFF & STUDENTS AT GOLDSMITHS – Attendees should be aware that difficult topics will be discussed throughout the day including rape and sexual assault. The purpose of the day is to provide a space for members of the Goldsmiths community to come together, think collaboratively, debate, discuss and be heard. This project seeks to change policies, processes and cultures which exist at Goldsmiths, by having an open consultation process we hope to involve people throughout the institution in the decision making and idea generation that is needed to make these changes. Attendees are welcome to drop in for all or part of the day. This registration form will ask you which sessions you plan to be present for the purpose of planning the event. Sessions Outline 10:00 – 10:30: Welcome and Introduction An opportunity to hear from the Deputy Warden, Elisabeth Hill and the newly appointed Strategy and Review Manager – Sexual Harassment, Vicki Baars. They will outline the plan of work for the coming 12 mon
There are two key parts to the day and people are welcome to attend for one part or for the whole workshop. Broadly these are:

1. Training via a workshop on dealing with secondary/vicarious trauma. This will be important for those who are likely to be hearing disclosures, particularly those who would not be expecting to do this e.g. Personal tutors, Senior tutors, Student experience directorate front line staff (eg those working in the library, Student Centre, accommodation team).

2. Facilitated conversations. These will cover (a) policy development, (b) organisational practices, (c) interventions. These conversations will help inform planning and developments moving forwards. It will be important for staff involved in all areas to be represented.

GUCU encourage members to attend to inform work in Goldsmiths in this vitally important area.

 

GUCU General Meeting

We are inviting all members to the next GUCU General Meeting:

 

Date: Monday 12th June
Time: 12:00

Location: RHB 309

We will be sending round more information and an agenda shortly, and we hope to see you all there!

Open to all GUCU members  If you are not already a member – Join us!

https://join.ucu.org.uk If there are issues you would like to see discussed or taken up by the branch or you are interested in getting more involved email us gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk

Goldsmiths London Weighting Campaign: Unison and UCU

Please see below for information on the London Weighting campaign, as well as a link to the survey. Please circulate widely, thank you.

Survey link: 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GoldsmithsLW

Joint statement – Unison and UCU:

The current rate of London Weighting allowance at Goldsmiths is £2825 across all spine points.  While it is increased annually in line with the nationally agreed pay rise (1% for the year 2015-16) there has been no substantial increase in the basic amount since 2004.  Yet, as we all know, the costs of living in London in comparison with the rest of the country are rocketing upwards year upon year.

As a result of unions’ campaigns in pre-92 universities like Kings College, Birkbeck and University of London our colleagues there are receiving around £3500 as their London Weighting allowance. Additionally, post-92 universities like London Metropolitan University have paid their staff £4,437 since 2014 and University of Greenwich values London Weighting at £4,546 for support staff. Taking this into account we believe that a request for an increase to £4000 for Goldsmiths staff will be both reasonable and affordable.

During the past 18 months, UNISON and the UCU have made two approaches to College management to ask them to consider an increase, but have been refused.  So now we feel it’s time for everyone to have their say.  Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and tell us just how the rising costs of living in London are affecting you.

Answers will be completely anonymous, no individual can be identified from any of the answers given.  We will use statistical data and information gathered to prepare and launch a campaign for London weighting and present a claim for an increase to College management.

We need as much information from as many of Goldsmiths staff as possible, so please forward the link to non-union colleagues.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us (UNISON members and enquiries e-mail s.stead@gold.ac.uk tel 020 7717 2264; UCU members and enquiries e-mail gucu-admin@gold.ac.uk tel 020 7919 7474)

Thank you for your help, we look forward to hearing from you!

On behalf of UNISON and UCU joint campaign

Suzanne Stead                                                                    Marian Carty

Branch Secretary                                                                President

UNISON Goldsmiths College Branch                               Goldsmiths UCU

Gold Paper Petition

Dear all,

We have ONE  WEEK left before the end of term, so the idea is that we flood this now and get as many signatures as we can. To do so, idea is that:

1. We all sign up to talk with students on campus about the Gold Paper, the Petition and gather analogue signatures.

Please sign up here: http://doodle.com/poll/9sza6qn3695iamgi53nq4mwr/admin#table We meet at the front desk of the RHB for each session. Leaflets can be picked up from behind the Student Union Reception Desk; or from me (I’ll replenish stashes in the SU periodically). There is also a box for ‘Returns’ – completed signed leaflets behind the the SU desk.

2. Staff should try and talk to students in every class in the next 1/5 weeks about the petition, and students should bring it up if staff don’t. For staff, here is a PowerPoint slide attached and a lower res jpeg of the petition for you to show in lectures. Maybe 5 minutes can be taken for students to discuss/ sign at the end of classes?

The Petition: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gold-paper-petition

— and in the meantime for ’taking points’/ further info —The Gold Paper for background reading: https://goldsmithsucu.org/the-gold-paper/

1. MENTAL HEALTH:

Please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j6j6StGBwQ) . From this, key stats:
Counselling Services Report 2015
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of SELF HARM: 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of SELF HARM: 218
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of ANXIETY:  223 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of ANXIETY:  363
2012-13 Number of Clients presenting issues of DEPRESSION, ANGER, MOOD CHANGE:167 2014-15 Number of Clients presenting issues of DEPRESSION, ANGER, MOOD CHANGE: 244
Debt/ Mental Health Connection Nationally:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/23/university-mental-health-services-face-strain-as-demand-rises-50

2. Housing: 

“During the Summer, the College sold the leases on 3 Halls of Residence to CAMPUS LIVING VILLAGES (CLV). CLV is an Australian firm run by CEO Simon Hickey, with gross assets worth $2 billion. This news was presented to the Trade Unions the day the deal was signed. We subsequently found out that the deal has been the result of 2 years of secret negotiations. The leases are for 50 years. The return for the College (after fees) is £22 million. Rents for the next 50 years go to CLV, not back into the College.College Council has agreed, without consultation with Trade Unions or Staff, that this money is to be spent on a ‘Landmark Property’ at 1 St James’ […] and will establish a stand-out gateway to the University.”

http://news.sky.com/story/student-rent-strike-campaigns-gathering-pace-against-exploitation-10581250

3. Governance …. http://www.gold.ac.uk/governance/committees/

And the great and the good: (see also Tribunal doc attached for section on governance)

Goldsmiths UCU/Goldsmiths Students’ Union statement on the NSS Boycott

Goldsmiths UCU and Goldsmiths Students’ Union pledge our support for the boycott of the National Student Survey (NSS) launched by the National Union of Students. We believe that the NSS is a methodologically flawed instrument for measuring teaching quality and that it provides an incomplete picture of the student experience. Furthermore, evidence shows that quantitative student evaluations like the NSS encourage gender discrimination in Higher Education and exhibit bias against BME staff.

The NSS is a key metric for the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will allow universities to increase fees depending on their TEF scores and whether they are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze. We believe that this will further entrench market forces inside Higher Education and distort the sector by privileging subjects that are focused, above all, on employability and popularity rather than those that highlight experimentation, creativity and critical thought. NSS scores will now be used in a framework that will devalue our degrees, especially the arts, humanities and social sciences programmes that we specialize in here at Goldsmiths.

Goldsmiths UCU and Students’ Union are committed both to protecting the quality of our education and to addressing issues that may be undermining this experience. We do not believe that the NSS – especially when it is linked to funding and fees – should have a role to play in this although we are more than happy to develop and participate in forms of evaluation that allow students to reflect on teaching quality and the wider academic experience in meaningful ways.

If even a handful of institutions refuse to participate in the NSS, it will damage the ability of the government to claim that the TEF is a fair and representative way of evaluating teaching quality. A boycott will protect the reputation of a Goldsmiths degree and make it harder to justify higher tuition fees and increased debt.

As part of the boycott, we are asking:

  • Third year undergraduate students NOT to answer any of the 27 questions of this year’s NSS that runs in the Spring term 2017.
  • All students who wish to support the boycott to help publicise the action – for example, taking part in lecture shout-outs – and to contact the Students’ Union as soon as possible.
  • UCU members to share materials in support of the NSS boycott, to upload a slide advertising the boycott to Powerpoint presentations in lectures and to allow students, where possible, to discuss the reasons for the boycott.
  • UCU members NOT to undertake any additional voluntary duties in relation to the NSS. Operationalising the NSS is not, except in a handful of cases, a contractual duty.

Our degrees are too precious to be distorted by the government’s determination to commercialise Higher Education and to see tuition fees rise ever higher. Boycotting the NSS is a hugely important first step to winning back control of our education.