The management of London Metropolitan University has announced a massive wave of course closures.
The proposals will see courses cut down to 160 from 557. The main targets of these cuts will be Philosophy, History, Modern Languages and Performing Arts. The only degree programme in Caribbean studies in the UK will also be shut down.
The university has been facing a major deficit after a crisis in 2009 saw it lose £36 million of government money (which it had falsely claimed from HEFCE after providing inflated figures for student numbers).
One member of the LMU Save Humanities Campaign told Solidarity, “My feeling about these cuts is that it is ideological attack. They haven’t given any justification, they are reluctant to release the actual figures that have led them to these conclusions. They have said that they haven’t calculated how much money they will save from the redundancies yet. Nothing official has been released, there has been no consultation – it seems they have just decided they don’t really need these courses…
“It seems that senior management are trying to strip the university of academic subjects and the humanities, and I think they’re trying to turn LMU into a business school.”
The people who will be affected by these cuts are students from working-class backgrounds, parents, people who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come to university if it wasn’t for London Met.
London Met management is dictating to working-class people what they should be allowed to study, and that is completely obscene. This university changes lives.
They are cutting support services too, like the Learner Development Unit. We’ve had students from other universities request to use this support service because it’s so good. The Dyslexia and Disability Unit is being axed: they’re going after the most vulnerable groups. People who need support most are having it taken away. The Writing Centre, where students mentor other students and get paid for doing so, is being cut — management are removing support for students studying, and the paid mentors will now have to find other ways of paying for their studies. It’s students who have to work extra jobs in order to sustain their studies who are being hit by these cuts.
Why is the university making these cuts? Well, let’s start by saying that the Vice Chancellor has created a post, the Executive Officer for the Vice Chancellor, the current holder of which is a former researcher for David Willets. The ideology of the government is being inflicted on London Met. And what’s happening at London Met — vulnerable groups being attacked, people only being allowed to study subjects that management deems to be of value – is a representation of all the bad things happening in wider society. A class division is being created.
They want education for working-class people to be commercialised, controlled by industries and large corporations. So, for example, rather than making services function and sustain themselves, instead they’re selling them off in bits and pieces to make private providers rich.
What’s happening at London Met is definitely of national significance. Look across the whole sector — they’re doing it to A-levels too, reducing the range of A-levels that can be provided. People in working-class areas can only get a certain service, but people who live in more affluent areas get a first-class service, access to libraries and so on. Couple this with the fact that working-class people are being cleared out of certain areas due to cutbacks in benefits, it’s almost class cleansing.
The campaign is going to lobby the people who make decisions at the university. This isn’t just London Met, so we’re going to lobby the government. We’re composing a letter that’s going to be sent out to state our position, saying we will take action and the unions will take industrial action. Students will take direct action. We will do whatever is necessary to stop this attack on our society.
This isn’t just an attack on our education, it’s not just about London Met, it’s about everybody. Everybody needs to stand up because together we can make a difference.
Having bursts of action around the country is good, but united action can help, united action all together can make a difference. I suppose what I’m saying is, we need solidarity!
Claire Locke, London Met SU president (personal capacity)