Dear Frances Corner,
We are international students at Goldsmiths, who have been repeatedly failed and lied to by both the government and the senior management team at Goldsmiths, and are demanding our concerns are addressed promptly. Certain promises were made about our student experience before we uprooted our lives and settled in London with certain expectations for our experiences this year. As international students we are subject to significantly larger tuition fees than home students, we have also left our home countries and largely have no existing support systems in the UK. We are acutely affected by the restrictions that have been put in place throughout this pandemic and ultimately our experience at Goldsmiths this year has been entirely inadequate. We have been patient and understanding throughout what has been a very difficult time for everyone but we have not received the same in return. It is unfair and unreasonable that we should accept being charged tuition fees in full in return for a subpar experience.
Below are some of the issues that we have faced this year, these have been collated from a large number of international students who’ve experienced these issues to varying degrees;
No in person teaching despite promises to the contrary
Lecturers who are unable to properly use online tools
Poor and inconsistent quality of pre-recorded lectures
A failing IT system
The online learning environment needed to be improved
Additional tools to support interactive learning were missing
Students who remained in their home country after the Christmas break because of the announcement of restrictions have struggled with classes being scheduled at unsociable hours such as in the middle of the night
The networking opportunities that used to come along with the community experience on campus have been diminished, which will have a direct impact on the value promised of a university, like Goldsmiths, and on our future projects as Goldsmiths alumni.
No extracurricular opportunities to get involved
A lack of community-building in several departments
Some cohort groups are far bigger than expected, making it difficult to get individual access to our tutors
We chose these courses for the face to face teaching and peer group interaction in the classroom both of which have been missing
A huge lack of communication from Goldsmiths University and departments
Reduced contact hours with professors and general staff
No feedback or replies at all from the fees department, with many inaccurate emails being sent out about unpaid tuition fees
Most of our emails were left without responses and updates were not as consistent as one would expect from such a reputed university
Lack of resources/facilities
No access to library materials (limiting the level of research that can be done) nor adequate study spots (not all home set-ups are sufficient to complete work comfortably)
No use of campus facilities that are a fundamental part of the academic experience, especially regarding essential spaces such as studios and labs for practical courses
Inadequate digitization of library resources to complete work to a good standard nor learn all of the course material
Assignments due during periods when students have no library access
Most printers are out of service and there is no one to assist.
Reading lists haven’t been revised or updated
The international office has not maintained contact with us, many of us last heard from them in September 2020
Long wait times when getting in touch with the international office, no email replies for weeks
A lack of communication/support around visa’s; with student visas being dependent on grades and having strict end dates, more communication is needed around how changing assessment policies may affect the visa status of international students
It is not just our learning experience that has been taken from us, our mental health has also been put at risk as our specific needs have been unaccounted for and disregarded. Moving to a new country can be a lonely enough experience in itself, we expected to be able to build communities here with the support of Goldsmiths, instead we left alone without communication. It is the combination of all these factors that have left us no choice but to take this action.
Moving forward we ask you to fulfill the following demands to help us perform at our best for our remaining assessments and compensate for what we have lost this year;
- As the taught aspects of this year are almost complete there is no other way to adequately compensate us for this year and we thus expect a significant refund of our tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21.
- Active communications from the international office detailing how changes to our programmes and assessments may affect our visa requirements
- A full response to the issues outlined below by Goldsmiths senior management team
- Outline a clear path for us to use study spaces and studios/labs once the current lockdown restrictions are lifted
- Meet the demands of staff currently on action short of a strike so that the marking boycott can be resolved and staff have fair compensation, and the resources to support students
- A greater effort by heads of departments and programmes to make sure the lecturers provide up to date content, existing and updated references
- More attention to how the content is structured in the vle and calendar, so future students can have a better, more coherent, experience
- An active effort to make the experience live up to the expected standard
- Extended access to uni resources. Such as books, online sources, etc.
Members of Goldsmiths’ International community