Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Guinea Pigs? Electronics and Computer Science

Whilst you students have been off gallivanting over the globe, getting up to all sorts of hazy summer mischief and most probably not giving your studies more than a momentary thought, BIG changes have swung into effect at Westminster.

It should come as no surprise to you, if you've been keeping up with Fight Cuts, that a third of Electronics and Computer Science School staff have been whittled out through an intensely demoralising voluntary redundancy period. Not to mention the 15 compulsories. So, that's a grand total of 48 less lecturers and guess what: student intake for next year is remaining the same.

This comes after a "restructuring" initiative from management whereby HSCS (Harrow School of Computer Science) has been upheaved and moved to Westminster's Cavendish Site.

Not only has this caused massive upset for many students, who enrolled with the premise of studying at Harrow, but alarm now saturates the air as the new building, which is under construction as we speak, is scheduled to finish the day before enrollment! When these concerns were raised with a deputy staff member from ECS recently, his awkward reply was: "It simply has to be finished on time". Here's to hoping ..

In essence this ill-thought-out "restructure" will see pre-advertised modules dropped, larger class sizes, less tete a tete with tutors and what can only amount to a dying quality of education.

Let's be frank here, who gives two shits about being homed in a plush new building, without teachers (let's keep in mind how overworked the ones who have survived the chop will be) the whole 'education thang' goes to pot.

Worries have been aired by the lecturer's union, UCU, that the ECS debacle is a guinea pig test case for future cuts. They believe Westminster Business School is the segment management would like to dissect but unfortunately, due to high unionisation within the School, the university have picked an easier target for now.

Well, guess what Westminster, our students aren't defenseless guinea pigs! They have a voice and you can bet they'll be using it come September.

Already, students have been pouring into the Students' Union with complaints regarding the ECS cut backs and the implications of them.

There will be more information (and, of course, a campaign surrounding this) shortly..

In the meantime feel free to contact me regarding any of the above,

Jade Baker, VP Education



  1. All valid points, I'm holding in however it turns out, as a Cavendish student the campus isn't at all bad, let's see what WMIN can pull out the bag. I don't however feel a guinea pig because education within university is somewhat a self journey, ill just focus on the tasks and challenges at hand and tackle them.

    Our current political climate means that it is inevitable cuts will come, let's just take a moment to thank all the clever people who voted for Cameron / Clegg (as if we had a choice on the coalition).

    I have so many things to say to them, and soon ill get my chance.

  2. Hi Dick Griffin Team,

    Unfortunately the university are using the cuts in ECS as an experiment, the UCU postualte this as well as many other voices from around the university. Hence using the personification of Guinea Pigs, we're not individuals to them clearly. Just numbers on a sheet that equate to a piece of HEFCE funding, that's the way it certainly seems.

    I say this because ECS haven't consulted with any any of their students about this change and many are seriuosly stuck due to lack of knwing what modules will be here next term, specialist supervisiors and theirfore what final project research to get underway with. This is ALREADY impeding students' studies.

    There are many other arguments for ECS negligence but here is not the place to disseminate it.

    Of course education is about self-journey, discovery, fulfillment, for the good of society and not just our CVs. But, by cutting back on the beasic fundamentals of education i.e. teaching staff, it is acting grossly negligent.

    They chose an easy target, in terms of non unionised and vulnerable lecturers. Therefore this is a case of managerial bullying too.

    I'm sure the new building will be great, but appreciate that many students are not happy with the move and would rather have a decent lecturering experience than a fancy surrounding.

    Furthermore, our political climate does not mean cuts are inevitable!!! (Unless you mean the Tory factor, but, still)

    In fact, the opposite.

    According to the Times Rich list (that's the 1000 wealthiest) the welth has grown by 77 billion in the past year.

    Now tell me there's no money to fund education?

    Let's scrap the billions spent on war and nuclear arms.

    Better still, let's nationalise ALL the banks (they made this "crisis" anyway, why should the poor in society have to pay for their fuck up) and let's use the profits to fund education amongst other things.

    I could go on but if you take one thing away from this ...


    P.S. Swing by the SU sometime and we can have a chat about all this, there's a free education/ stop the cuts demo in November, 10 in London. We will be building for it in the SU. Come along!! x