Students occupy art school over cuts plan

Students have occupied a London art school in protest over cuts to foundation courses.

March 23, 2015

Dozens of protesters took over the reception area of the main building at Central Saint Martins in King’s Cross, London, over changes to its foundation courses in art and design.

Students at the sit-in at Saint Martins, which is part of the University of the Arts London, say up to 800 places will be lost when the courses at the London College of Communication (LCC) are abolished and those at Camberwell College move to Saint Martins. However, UAL says this figure is wrong and puts it at less than 600.

The occupation began on the evening of 19 March, leading to the closure of the Lethaby Gallery as locks placed on doors are apparently blocking access to a fire escape. 

The protesters claim the loss of foundation courses would hinder efforts to recruit students who lack formal qualifications and reduce the quality of arts education at the college.

“The link between foundation and degree is vital, both for access for those from marginalised backgrounds, and for the quality of arts education and the ability of artists to explore different fields,” said Indiana Lawrence, a foundation student at Camberwell College of Art.

“What is being proposed is devastating, and we will stay here for as long as it takes to make UAL back down,” she added.

Protesters say a meeting will be held on 24 March to inform staff about how many jobs will be lost as a result of the changes.

The university says it is happy to meet a delegation from the student protests to discuss their demands, but has defended the cuts, which it says will lead to the loss of 580 places over the next two years.

It said the foundation is “not necessary or appropriate for students on non-art and design courses, of which there are many at UAL”.

“Non-art and design students – mainly at London College of Communication – will therefore no longer be required to undertake foundation courses there,” a spokesman said, adding that this “seems an effective response to a hostile funding environment”.

In addition to calling for a reversal of the cuts, the protesters have also issued a list of demands, which include increased financial transparency about how course fees are spent and the inclusion of student and staff representatives on the university’s executive board.

The full list can be found here.

Shelly Asquith, president of UAL students’ union, said management has “no mandate for pushing through these cuts”.

“They have continually undermined education in favour of profit-making and have shown contempt for engaging with the student body in any meaningful way,” she said.

“It’s clear that this government couldn’t care less about the arts – I would expect better from our own university,” she added.

The occupation is due to hold a public meeting on 23 March at 6pm.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Research Positions in Nanotechnology

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD Fellowship in Electrocatalysis

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Lecturer in Business and Management

De Montfort University

Reader in International Development

University Of Wolverhampton
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes