Unions call on LCC head to quit over decision to cull 'unviable' courses

Design subjects will be hit hardest by the closure of 16 programmes. David Matthews reports

January 19, 2012



Emphatic wording: unanimous 'no confidence' vote by union members at LCC


Unions have called on the head of the London College of Communication, Sandra Kemp, to resign after it was announced that another 16 courses will be cut at the institution.

About 20 posts will also be made redundant across the University of the Arts London, of which the LCC is part. The closures include four bachelor's degrees, one master's programme and 11 foundation courses, six of which have "top up" options that allow students to convert them into full honours degrees with an extra year of study.

Ten of the courses are in design subjects, but foundation degrees in other subjects, including animation and sports journalism, will also be cut.

In a statement the LCC says that the closures are part of the college's policy of "continually reviewing" courses to "ensure that the education it provides meets students' expectations and is relevant to the careers they will enter".

It says it is too early to say how many jobs will be affected but anticipates that the majority of staff will be redeployed as "content from closing courses will be embedded in new or current courses".

In a separate statement sent last month to students, the LCC says that "some of the courses under review have very small numbers of applicants and we are genuinely worried about these courses being viable and about them being able to offer the best student experience".

It adds that it has also considered whether the courses are replicating others offered elsewhere in UAL, and if the foundation degrees should be offered as bachelor's degrees.

In response to the course closure plans and proposed redundancies, the University and College Union, GMB and Unison unions at the LCC called on Professor Kemp to resign.

In a unanimous vote on 12 January, they agreed that they had "no confidence in the head of LCC, Sandra Kemp", and called for her "immediate resignation".

They accused her of showing a "lack of concern for protecting the future and quality of education" at the college and for failing to protect the interests of staff.

Meanwhile, the GMB is preparing to ballot its members on possible industrial action over the separate loss of 20 technical and administration jobs across the university.

The UAL said the job losses were part of a reorganisation of undergraduate courses across its colleges.

Four of the courses to be closed are already suspended and will not take in new students this year, while the rest will shut from 2013.

In 2009, the LCC chose to close 16 courses in the School of Creative Enterprise because they were "not closely related to the academic mission of the college".

The Quality Assurance Agency found in June last year that the LCC's process for shutting down these courses had not been "fit for purpose" and had a "detrimental impact on the quality of learning opportunities for students".

On the latest closures, the LCC says it is "confident that it will continue to provide a high-quality educational experience throughout the process of running-out closing courses".

In November, the college's head of communications, Gillian Radcliffe, resigned, alleging that she had been subject to "irrational criticism" from Professor Kemp, whose "treatment of people was unfair".

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

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