Goldsmiths students occupy Deptford Town Hall in protest against planned staff job cuts

‘F*ck, did I actually come to the right school?’

Students at Goldsmiths, University of London occupied Deptford Town Hall this week in protest against proposed plans for more than 130 staff redundancies.

Protestors displayed a banner reading “stand with staff” at Deptford Town Hall, an administrative building which is owned and operated by Goldsmiths and also houses management offices.

The University and College Union (UCU) has thrown its full support behind sit-ins orchestrated by Goldsmiths students, who are appealing against job cuts proposed by the administration, The Art Newspaper reports.

Speaking on the possible staff cuts, UCU Secretary Jo Grady said: “If management succeeds in steamrolling these devastating cuts through, Goldsmiths will be unrecognisable from the great creative powerhouse it currently is. Our members at the university have the union’s full backing, this includes access to our local defence fund.”

She added that the scale of the cuts were “incomprehensible.”

This week, students at Goldsmiths have been voting in a Student’s Union referendum, on whether they have confidence in the Goldsmiths Warden Professor Frances Corner, and the Goldsmith’s Senior Management Team.

In 2020, 87 per cent of staff voting in a similar “confidence motion” said they had no confidence in Professor Corner’s leadership.

At the time, a representative for Goldsmiths said: “We’re sad to see a proportion of our 2000 strong staff community have taken this step as the college faces unprecedented pressures and challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The proposed cuts are part of years long tensions between the Goldsmiths administration and the Union over repeated attempts, by Goldsmiths, to cut staff numbers.

Keir, a student at Goldsmiths, told The London Tab: “You might argue ‘it’s just them being realistic about money’ but I had classes cut because there was no one to do them.”

He added: “I’m in my third year, I shouldn’t be wondering ‘F*ck, did I actually come to the right school?'”.

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said: “After consulting unions and staff for 65 days we are now regrettably moving to the next stage of the redundancy process. During this time, we have listened and responded to evidenced and viable suggestions and made changes where appropriate, including significant changes in relation to our processes and decision-making.

“The actions we are taking are in response to the unprecedented challenges that Goldsmiths and other universities are facing from a funding system that is no longer fit for purpose and are part of a wider plan aimed at ensuring that Goldsmiths continues to be a beacon for innovative research and teaching as well as an entry point for students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to university. “

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