Student sit-in at Goldsmiths to protest planned job cuts

Students from Goldsmiths College (University of London) have occupied Deptford Town Hall in protest against planned cuts, which could see more than 130 academics lose their jobs. The Town Hall is owned and operated by Goldsmiths.

The University and College Union (UCU) said in a statement that following a town hall meeting on June 3, “academics, together with students, convened a general meeting to discuss direct action against management and declared that they would would occupy the building. council chamber. They later unfurled a banner reading ‘Stand with Staff’ outside the administrative building which also houses management offices.” The Art Newspaper understands that the sit-in in the building continues.

Last month, a spokesperson for Goldsmiths said that “132 academic positions are being considered as part of the extensive consultation we are undertaking. This amounts to 91.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) and amounts to 17% (1 in 6) of the scientific staff.” The planned cuts are part of the ‘Transformation’ restructuring programme, which also aims to reduce operating costs by £20 million annually.

A UCU representative explains The Art Newspaper: “There are currently two appeals on campus, one at Goldsmiths Center for Contemporary Art which focuses on demands around Palestine/divestment, but also includes demands to end the restructuring and job losses as part of their protest , and the other – the new one – focuses on senior management’s disastrous plans for 133 job cuts and restructuring, called the Transformation Programme, but in solidarity with the demands of the other students. The new occupancy will be at Deptford Town Hall, in the council chambers.”

UCU claims the new line-up came after “management caused a furore last week when they silenced members of the academic staff in an online meeting following the publication of a ‘consultation report’ outlining their determined plans to cut more than 130 jobs .” Goldsmiths was contacted for comment.

Last month, Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen spoke about the series of proposed cuts, saying: “The planned changes taking place in the arts and humanities departments at Goldsmiths are of great concern to me.” McQueen is one of the university’s famous arts alumni, along with the likes of Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas.

Meanwhile, Goldsmiths was on “the brink of an abyss” in 2021. The Art Newspaper reported that the college was facing a financial shortfall of £8 million.