Statements

Tony Fretton

Open letter from Sheffield University Architecture Society

To: Professor John Raftery, Vice-Chancellor, London Metropolitan University; Board of Governors of London Metropolitan University; Sheffield School of Architecture staff and students; The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design staff and students; London Metropolitan University staff and students; Any other stakeholders, bodies or institutions with interest in the quality of architectural education within the CASS Re: CASS Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design re-location, its staff and student opposition and subsequent events that have taken place. In recent years the UK has moved towards a greater commercialisation of Higher Education, and we are concerned that this has the potential to overlook the creative educational needs of architecture students. In this context, the recent events at The CASS Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, in which financially driven decisions made within London Met pose a threat to the Faculty through re-locating and downsizing studio provisions, cuts to staff, disrupting the student learning experience, and most notably, the suspension of the dean of the CASS, Robert Mull following his opposition to the changes. Since, Robert Mull has been forced to resign. Another senior figure in the name of Helen Mallinson, Director of CASS Culture has also resigned following the events. SUAS (Sheffield University Architecture Society), would like to express our collective support for the campaign to preserve the quality of education and collaboration currently existing within the East London Campus. We, as students of architecture, cannot ignore the systematic disenfranchisement of our fellow colleagues of the CASS Faculty and the unwillingness of the London Metropolitan University governing body to accommodate their needs raised in their opposition to the move. As architecture students we value the interdisciplinary nature of teaching fostered within architecture schools. With its integration of Art, Design and Architecture courses the CASS is at its forefront of creative education. The re-location of the Faculty and closure of design courses will inevitably impact on the quality of education. The downsizing of architectural studios will adversely impact on the capabilities of a school with a strong reputation of 'making' within the architectural world. We are concerned with the way the University has handled the situation and ostracised respected academics such as Robert Mull and Helen Mallinson. This will inevitably diminish the standard of teaching within the Architecture Department. Through ignoring the opinions of the majority of its staff and students within the Architectural department, the University is setting a worrying precedent about their value. We voice our opposition to the disintegration of the 'Bauhaus of Aldgate' in the context of a strong campaign nationwide. The RIBA, SCHOSA, staff and students of The CASS and many notable architects have already expressed their support to Robert Mull and staff and students of the CASS. An open letter had been submitted in the Observer, with notable signatories such as Sir David Chipperfield opposing the move. Online petitions against the move have attracted more than 3,500 signatures and more than 2,900 signatories respectively. The question of the CASS move has been discussed in the House of Lords on the 3rd of December 2015, where a strong opposition to the move was expressed. We urge London Metropolitan to review its current Strategic Plan, 'One Campus, One Community', in light of its consequences for the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design. We call on London Metropolitan to pursue a two-site solution that keeps the education of art, making and design alive and kicking where The CASS began in London's East End. We are specifically concerned about the compromise to the quality of Architectural education within the CASS and its future as one of the progressive schools of Architecture in Britain and beyond.

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Letter of support from UCU general secretary

Dear colleague, I'm writing once again to ask for your support and solidarity on behalf of colleagues at London Metropolitan University who, having been subjected to several years of job cuts and upheaval, now face yet another round of staff redundancies and the closure of large numbers of courses and two of the university's three campuses. The university's student body has joined us in condemning management's strategic plan which includes the closure of the world renowned Sir John Cass faculty of art, architecture and design. I urge you to please sign the petition here. I believe it is crucial that the union stands beside the London Met UCU branch in their campaign to defend jobs at the university whose mission of widening participation and access to education for its local communities is second to none. Leading figures from the arts including director of the Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota, architect Lord Rogers and artists Anish Kapoor and Jeremy Deller have spoken out against the proposal and what it would mean to Britain's creative industries. The dire situation for staff and students at London Metropolitan University is a concern for the whole union and UCU's national executive committee (NEC) unanimously voted to mount a national campaign in defence of our members so I invite you to please sign the petition to save 'the Cass' and write to the local UCU branch and extend your support and solidarity: uculondonmet@mail.com. Thank you. Sally Hunt UCU general secretary

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Rosie McGoldrick – An Oak Tree

This time round it's not an Irish artist telling everyone what's what, but another Irishman, the construction industry economist John Raftery, now Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University. He announced that in a scheme called 'Project Oak Tree', the Cass art school will be moved far from its East End home of 150 years to North London (halfway up the Holloway Road - 5 miles away). The project carries the slogan 'One campus. One community'. Under that catholic banner, the old multicultural pluralism at the university may now be snuffed out and a new unifying orthodoxy established, instead (heresy is essentially partial and local, after all). Some £50m may be garnered in the sale of Central House (opposite the Whitechapel Gallery). Surprisingly, there is no new plan for art school admissions to accompany this move, despite the obvious wrench from the Cass's recruiting heartland. All this to move into a campus which has shed applicants at great speed recently (under much the same management team). John now seriously risks losing in a very short time both a great art school tradition and a revived and flourishing Cass.

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Discussion document from Cass faculty forum, 26 October 2015

Summary: The sudden decision of London Metropolitan University to sell the remaining assets of London Guildhall University should be revisited. The assets include Central House, the purpose developed home of its art school now hub of the thriving Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design. There are very strong arguments in favour of keeping the Cass in its present location and holding on to its unique and very successful ecology of disciplines and facilities. The Cass is important to the culture and economic regeneration of the East End and its creative industries, and through that is of significance to the nation. It offers real opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds - and they go on to achieve amazing things. The Cass Faculty Forum requests that the University develops and supports an alternative 'two campus' scenario which involve the Cass staying in Aldgate.

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Letter to Times Higher Education from UCU

We wish to register our dismay at vice-chancellor John Raftery's asset-stripping, course-closing, job-cutting plan for London Metropolitan University... We call on our board of governors to intervene immediately, halt the sale of The Cass' building and these precipitous course closures, and work with us and our members to develop a realistic forward-looking plan for a "two-campus" estate. This should maintain and grow our significant arts and design presence in Aldgate, while ensuring appropriate investment in our Holloway Road estate. Mark Campbell London Metropolitan University UCU (chair) David Hardman London Metropolitan University UCU (secretary)

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