This grad burnt his degree to protest Falmouth’s decision to suspend the Art Foundation course

He sent the ashes back to uni in an envelope

Some people burn incense, some people burn their ex’s belongings in a pent of rage – Tom Stockley decided to burn his degree.

Following the decision of Falmouth university to suspend the Art Foundation course, graduate Tom Stockley got thinking about the way universities go about creativity. With the dusty ashes of what was once his degree, he sent an accompanying letter to the Vice Chancellor, Anne Carlisle (yes, the one who’s pay went up 20 per cent last year to over £280,000). Within this, he made some pretty powerful points about the decision made by the university he dedicated four years of his life to.

Tom Stockley, Art grad, degree burner

The letter mentions how this decision has caused people to lose their jobs and those who had hopes of completing their foundation course in Falmouth now how to wave goodbye to that opportunity. Tom goes on to make the point that a lot of us are thinking- universities are turning into businesses and the creative courses seem to be getting the brunt of it.


“As I’ve said before, creativity is not for sale and we are not your business. After four years, I am not just a Bachelor of Arts but a Bachelor of Anxiety – How much more will we have to pay for what was free a generation ago? What part of our lives will be cut next because it doesn’t generate enough income? If my education has been about profit, does it matter who I am and what I’ve learnt?”


Tom mentioned how he no longer wants to be associated with what universities are becoming. Foundation courses are crucial to budding artists as it allows them to test their reigns and understand what is the right creative path for them- without it, it’s like diving into a pool without testing the depth.

“But I learnt that this experience comes at a price – that, like our health and social care, many universities are governed by a business-centric callousness. It’s a prostitution of education at the expense of others that I no longer want to be part of.”

The overall point that Tom Stockley is making here is that universities are undermining the necessity and importance of art degrees and foundation courses. This powerful statement seems to encapsulate some of the frustration that has built up following Falmouth Universities decision. Photos have been uploaded to Tom’s online portfolio showing each character on the valuable document dissolve into powder and smoke- like it is worth nothing.


“But I hope that you will begin to understand people’s fears and frustrations, that our voice will be heard and that an honest and equal dialogue can be opened between us all.”

The letter simply ends with: “Here’s my degree – I don’t want it any more.”

Read the full letter on Tom’s website, here.