Further to our previous statement, we condemn the University’s decision to cease the operation of LLU+ next year. LLU+ is a national centre for staff working in the areas of literacy, numeracy, dyslexia, family learning and English for Speakers of Other Languages. These areas of expertise are directly relevant to a core mission of this University – widening participation to higher education.
We reiterate the value of languages and the language centre to our education and employability – the University prides itself upon its high graduate starting salaries, to which this contributes. With the Language Centre shut, we will be one of the few higher education institutions without provision for foreign languages, in a particularly diverse university. Therefore we are constructively using the Language Centre for its intended purpose, learning languages and improving our own education while we are here.
As stated previously, the petition we submitted to the management of the University, mentioned not only the closure of the language centre, but also the scrapping of emergency loans. Dr. Cardew did not mention this in his response. These loans, formerly provided by LSBU, enabled students in financial difficulty to continue their studies in higher education. Our student base contains a high proportion of students from lower income backgrounds and many are also parents or full time carers. These students often relied upon this vital service; also crucial to making this a University for all.
We feel Dr. Cardew’s statement fails to respond to our demands directly – much of his statement reflects the corporate language and reasoning that the University promotes to students and staff in its communications. Furthermore the statement suggests that the Students’ Union is the focus for student concerns – this should not be the only route to raise the student voice. For instance, we submitted a petition of over 1,100 signatures regarding the Language Centre and emergency loans – this received no response from the University. Similarly we invited the Vice-Chancellor to meet with us prior to the occupation, but he declined.
The premise that underpins Dr. Cardew’s statement is that the University’s first principle is that of a business rather than an educational institution. Defend LSBU! Defend our Education! reject this idea. Education has value in itself and should be available for all. Our demands call for the University to reject the idea that cuts are inevitable and that the free market can provide the best education for our students, a public position held by our Vice-Chancellor. We should not, as the statement suggests, show solidarity with other Universities which accept the implementation of higher education cuts, but rather stand with those who fight back.
We need a direct response to our demands. We are not customers, we are students standing up for the value and independence of our education. We will not accept the marketization of education as a rationale for job losses, department closures and service cuts.