Friday, 6 August 2010

Sign Up: Students' School of ECS Cutbacks Declaration..

Dear ECS Students,

You may be aware that the university has very recently undergone a controversial and unnecessarily demoralising “restructuring” process, whereby 48 ECS staff members have been laid-off by precarious voluntary or compulsory redundancies.

An ECS/ UCU member stated at the end of June on “ECS staff would not wish our worst enemy to go through the agony of waiting to receive an email for an interview that does not arrive, or the wait for some months now to find out whether we have a job after July. It goes without saying; therefore, that ECS staff sincerely hope that no other school will have to experience our predicament.”

Equally infuriating, management from the School of ECS have not, until recently, liaised with the students about the possible effects of this, or even asked them for their opinions on the cutbacks.
The effects of this negligent restructure is already taking its toll and impeding students’ studies.
To take an anecdotal example, last February, second year students were given a Final Project Supervisor Sheet (listing area specialties) and were told if they wanted to up their grades: a) endeavour to find work experience and b) initiate and start researching/ carrying out their Final Projects. They were asked to hand in the sheets by June 10th but the climate of sporadic redundancies prohibited many lecturers from knowing whether they’d still be at Westminster come September to supervise on any projects; and so, effectively, students and staff were both left in the lurch. This hinders students from achieving the best possible outcome from denying prompt research and creates a culture of fright and uncertainty for tutors who fear for their job security. Concurrently, this leads to a focus for lecturers on whether they’ll be able to pay next month’s mortgage rather than concentrating on next month’s student assessments. This is NOT fair and is an indictment on university management.

As many students refused to hand in the sheet until they knew their chosen supervisor would be staying put, the university quite rightly agreed to put back the date to the July 8th.
However, today, August 5th and students have still not been notified on who will be here next year and what modules will be affected.

This only hits the tip of the iceberg with regards to the current and likely problems the School of ECS and most importantly, its students, will face come next term. The foreseeable are larger class sizes; less one on one tutorial and class time with tutors; marking taking measurably longer to come back; pre-advertised modules being dropped; tutors which do not specialise in relevant and important specific areas; overworked and miserable lecturers. It seems ludicrous to cut staff back by a third but to keep student intake at the same level. If any of the above become actualities this could well fall within the remit of ‘failure to deliver’ what was promised by the university in the module handbook for example, and is a suable offence.
What’s more, the Students’ Union met with the Deputy of ECS, Stephen Winters, over two weeks ago and he promised to have the list of remaining supervisors shipped out to students. As stated above, this has NOT happened.

Further to that, he also reassured us that he would send out a declaration to all students promising the quality of their education will not drop over the upcoming year. This has also NOT happened.

We understand that the university’s line is essentially these cuts have been implemented to act as a buffer when the upcoming cuts to education in 2011, from the Higher Education Funding Council and this ConDem government, take effect.

However, we believe that there are many other ways the university could have made savings (as well as consulting students beforehand): like taking a salary cut over the top layers of management who between 2008-2009, hired four new deans and two executive governors, who got paid between £100,00 and £129,000 per year. Not only by cutting the ridiculously high salaries of the ever increasing layers of management, but also, the astronomical amounts of money which must have been spent or rebranding the university and consultancies. Further to that, the university has dusted itself off of many vital lecturing staff but has enough weight in its pocket to hire a new PR team, who will be starting in September. The list goes on.


· We demand that the list of remaining lecturers be released!
· We demand that a statement ensuring the quality of education will not fall is constructed!
· We demand that remaining and dropped modules be brought to our attention!

Please Sign.

* Alex Keable - Crouch
* Panagiotis Zavatzki
* Zbigniew Chmielewski (Mobile and Wireless Computing)
* Flaminia Giambalvo (Alumni)
* Amy Wilkes
* Ali Abbas
* Matthew Banham
* Mahad Mohamud (French & Arabic)
* Davinderpal Singh Rehal
* Natasha McGechan (Vice President activities, UWSU)
* Kamilla Koncz (English Literature)
* Seyed Ali Hosseini (Software Engineering)
* Rakesh Vishwanath
* Goochie Shack
* Queenie TC Wong
* Laurence Oliphant

Jade Lori Baker
VP Education, UWSU


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