Sunday, 8 May 2011

Friday, 6 May 2011

We are London Met, not Easy Met!

In April 2011 London Metropolitan University announced the closure of 70% of its courses, including Performing Arts, History, Caribbean Studies and Philosophy.

This proposal to massively reduce and restrict provision is a direct attack on the students, staff and the whole London Met community, and represents an attack on widening participation and the value of educational opportunities and the pursuit of critical thinking that universities should provide for all.

For more information about the campaign to save London Met, please visit: and

Sign the petition here:

The announcement by London Met University to slash 70 percent of its courses is a direct attack on the students, staff and the whole London Met community, and furthermore an attack on the ethos and principles that we hold dear: of widening participation and the value of educational opportunities and the pursuit of critical thinking that universities should provide for all.

These unprecedented cuts stem from a government whose cabinet is comprised of millionaires who were nearly all Arts and Humanities students who received their university degrees for free, paid for by the state.

Yet London Met students from non-traditionally academic backgrounds are being told that Arts and Humanities subjects do not help to ‘build careers’.

Professor (of Music) and Vice Chancellor of the University Malcolm Gillies has done very well so far in his career. Peter McCaffery, newly appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor studied History, yet his vision for London Met is one that has no history.

Philosophy too will be chopped, deemed unprofitable. The British Philosophical Association Director, Helen Beebee, has said recently:

“Philosophy has been taught in universities for over 900 years. It addresses questions that continue to be central to our understanding of the world and our place within it. The core aim of any self-respecting university should be the pursuit of knowledge; but philosophy is unique in addressing the question of what knowledge itself is.”

Arguing against the closure of Philosophy at Greenwich University, Beebee contends that the subject should be available as widely as possible:

“The new universities [...] play a vital role in this. They have broad access to parts of the community where the appeal of the ‘old’ universities is very limited; moreover, philosophy is a subject that can be studied from a wide variety of educational backgrounds.”

These attacks amount to telling working class and poor students that these subjects are ‘not for the likes of you’, and we reject this absolutely. In making these cuts, London Met management are publicly embracing government policies singling out the arts, humanities and social sciences for attack.

We believe the government’s attacks on education should be resisted, not embraced. We believe that higher education should provide working class and non-traditional students with a full range of well resourced, appropriately taught and supported academic courses, rather than a narrow set of under-resourced and 'cheaply' delivered so-called 'vocational' degrees.

We don’t believe in a ‘No-Frills’ education, provided on the cheap, with buildings but no staff. We are London Met, not EasyMet!

We believe fundamentally that higher education is a public good that benefits the whole of society as well as that of the wider economy. We further believe that universities should be run democratically as local community academic assets - with full student, staff, and community involvement. We do not accept the argument that you can have 'too many' people educated to degree level, or that we should ration educational opportunity to a minority that believe they can financially afford it.

The fight to defend publicly-funded HE is not over and we do not accept the defeatism of the University’s management over fees and provision – it is a local and national struggle.

We therefore resolve to do everything in our power to fight these cuts, including as appropriate, lawful industrial action, protests, and demonstrations – we will do everything in our hands to stop this educational vandalism. We will continue to campaign for free higher education open to all and call on the whole community to sign up to this statement.

Max Watson, London Met UNISON Chair, & NEC
Mark Campbell, London Met UCU Chair, & NEC
Claire Locke, METSU President-elect
Cliff Snaith, London Met UCU Secretary
Allan Pike, London Met UNISON Branch Secretary
Mary Davis, TUC Women’s Committee, ex-London Met UCU
Paul Mackney, NATFHE General Secretary/ UCU (1997-2007)
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Sian Moore, UCU, WLRI Reader in Industrial Relations
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