Concerned students are preparing a letter to Simon Holdaway, Head of the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, following rumours of significant funding cuts to the School for 2021. The letter, circulated by students from the Faculty of Arts, has appeared on University Facebook pages such as Overheard and True Overheard and asks students to digitally sign the letter in support of maintaining funding for the School, citing a 2% increase in student enrolments in the last year. The rumoured cuts include decreasing the number of courses available in the School as well as reducing the number of available Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) contracts.
The University, in an email to Craccum, clarified that incorrect conclusions might have been reached following discussions from the University Senior Leadership team about the financial situation and Strategic planning for the University. It assured Craccum that “Classes have not been cut, there is no decision to have lectorials, and we are protecting jobs for GTAs, particularly in first-year courses”. The email further stated however that the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on the University’s financial situation and this would need to be “taken into consideration in 2021”, with the University maintaining a priority on providing “world-class teaching and learning”.
However, students in the School, told Craccum that they learnt of the rumoured funding decreases from numerous academics within the Faculty as well as through discussions at Student-Staff Consultative Meetings.The Arts Student Organisation (ASO) told Craccum they were aware of the alleged funding cuts and had been informed by numerous Faculty of Arts staff members. ASO said that “whilst we understand that COVID-19 has a devastating effect on the country’s economy and the finances of the University, the current approach of looking at cutting papers and student-facing staff is an incredibly short-sighted approach”. ASO further stated that “cuts to academic products offered to students should be coupled with cuts to professional staff salaries and other superfluous expenses the University current maintains, even if such cuts are little more than symbolic.”
The Head of Social Sciences, Professor Simon Holdaway, will now meet with concerned students next week to discuss their concerns.