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A message from Goldsmiths UCU about ending the assessment boycott for students

Dear students,

After nearly 4 months of industrial action, Goldsmiths UCU members have voted to end the marking boycott and accept the current set of commitments put forward by Goldsmiths Senior Management Team to resolve their dispute. Members of GUCU (the trade union representing large numbers of academic and academic-related professional staff at Goldsmiths) extend our deepest gratitude to Goldsmiths students for their incredible patience and support since the beginning of our industrial action in January. We are especially aware of the challenge this action has posed to students at a time of global crisis.

Staff have now resumed marking and will be endeavoring to ensure all assessments are carried out in order for students to progress or complete their programmes before the end of the academic year. Timelines for when you will receive grades and feedback will be decided upon by your department as you’ll appreciate it may take tutors time to work their way through the considerable backlog of marking.

We know what a difficult year it has been and we did not take the decision to begin industrial action lightly. We were forced into taking action by Goldsmiths management who threatened hundreds of job losses during a time of global pandemic, increased workloads exponentially through reductions in staffing, and failed to provide a safe teaching and learning environment for both staff and students.

Staff and students have a common interest in forming a strong response to SMT’s handling of the pandemic and the university’s financial deficit. SMT’s so-called 'recovery plan' proposes staff cuts and restructures that will have a highly detrimental impact on your learning and the education of future students. The action we took to protect our jobs and working conditions had the larger purpose of protecting the learning conditions of students. And while our action put pressure on the management of the College, we also aimed to protect students as much as possible and build communities of solidarity, through which we can fight the wider systems of inequality at Goldsmiths.

We would like to thank the students who have written countless letters, petitions and emails to the Goldsmiths Council and SMT, those who took part in social media campaigns, solidarity events and who attended large student-staff assemblies. It’s only through such staff and student collective action that the senior management team were pressured into significant movement in the negotiations with the union.

Particular thanks and solidarity goes to the representatives of the Students’ Union who have provided indispensable support and constructive feedback for our campaign throughout, the Rent Strike, Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action and the Fees Strike. We will continue to fight for the demands of their campaigns.

Our collective action has shown management that we, along with the majority of the Goldsmiths community, see the destruction they are perpetuating in the name of recovery, and will fight back against it.

Although the current industrial action has been halted, SMT’s recovery plan and restructure as a whole have not been halted as a result of this dispute. It remains highly likely that SMT/the College will continue to plan for significant numbers of compulsory redundancies in the coming months, in addition to those that have already taken place since last summer, and will continue to push ahead with its restructuring of academic departments and professional services, to the detriment of all staff and students, present and future.

It is of particular concern that SMT and Council have not formally abandoned plans to invest over £6 million in the new Enterprise Hub over the next two years - a plan that had been suspended - while seeking to cut £6 million in staff costs over the same period.

GUCU aims to protect all staff jobs and your education. In order to do this we need to strengthen our collective campaigns and continue to build and link our struggles. So we ask students to:

- Attend the upcoming Students' Forum and take part in a vote of no confidence in Goldsmiths management

- Support the Fees Strike, and donate to the Rent Strike fund

- Follow GUCU on facebook, instagram and twitter to stay updated

Ultimately our collective aim is not simply to resist and protect staff and students against undesirable changes, but to transform Goldsmiths into the genuinely radical, open and progressive place we all want it to be. We are not resistant to change: we actively want to see and work towards a radical and collectively defined transformation of the University.

If you have any queries please get in touch with gucustudentliaison@gmail.com. This inbox is checked regularly by UCU members who will respond.

With thanks and solidarity,

GUCU