Close search

Strike Assessment Scheme: Too little, too late

Strike compensation: a statement from your students' union

Key things you need to know

Our response to the College's inadequate Strike Assessment Scheme:

 

  • Goldsmiths SU believes the Strike Assessment Scheme is too little, too late.
     
  • The Strike Assessment Scheme doesn't comply with UK-wide guidance and precedents relating to student compensation for lost education.
     
  • The Strike Assessment Scheme was written without consulting student officers.

 

We are calling for a radical overhaul of the process. We are in active discussions with the College about achieving this.

 

What do we know?

 

Many of you will have received an email from the college regarding strike compensations.

The email details whether or not you are eligible for compensation and the amount they find you entitled to.

In the email, you will notice that the college has unacceptably prescribed to you a degree of impact on your student experience in the past year, using such dismissive language as “mild”.

It was also reasoned that the availability of VLE resources, lecture slides, teach outs, offer of additional sessions with tutors and rescheduled classes “where possible” were “support and learning opportunities” deemed adequate enough to justify a reduced severity label to impact. 

The lack of transparency around compensation criteria and process has been frustrating.

The college designed the Strike Assessment Scheme by conducting an insubstantial Learning Impact Assessment to determine the loss of learning you experienced. The considerations in the Learning Impact Assessment were restrictively academic, including degree of disruption to scheduled teaching, reprovision of learning, and mitigations during strike action throughout the 2021/22 academic year.

Compensations are prescribed on “varying levels of severity” including: none, mild, moderate, substantial and severe. Each level has a fixed amount of financial compensation.

Compensations are generalised to you based on your programme, year group and on a narrow academic paradigm of student experience. Students were sorted by programme and allotted the compensation based on the level of severity of impact their programme had been assessed to have had.

There was no engagement with us, the SU, throughout the learning impact assessment. There had been no consistent consultations with students across this process.

Yet again, a decision about students and student experience has been made without students.

 

What is our response?

 

The Strike Assessment Scheme is an insult to students’ reality in the past year. Goldsmiths SMT have proven once again that they are disconnected with the student experience. 

 

  • The availability of resources is the college’s duty and responsibility to students, and do not independently meet the learning expectations and objectives set out by programme or module. This, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIAHE) corroborates here. 
     
  • Teach-outs as non-hierarchical community-based learning spaces do not belong to the college and are not open for them to appropriate within institutional academic defines. They are a form of protest. Co-opting these as institutional “mitigations” then sets a dangerous precedent for student and staff organising and co-organising.
     
  • Delays in student support such as RASAs, extenuating circumstances and strains to mental health were not considered as part of the impact. These, which have very much been a shared experience, have been classified as individual circumstances left out of the impact assessment leading to the scheme. This means students have to undergo a separate complaints process if they feel this should be considered as part of their compensation, although it should have been built into the assessment for all students. The mere availability of and signposting to wellbeing services, which is already strained, cannot be said to have meted out this impact. It is offensive to point students towards greater engagement with a college system that has already been violently contradictory to what we are expecting, especially when the college continues to act in the same institutional violence that led to these issues in the first place. Without taking into account the welfare and wellbeing of each and every student, regardless of RASA or official institutionalised needs/circumstance, means the impact assessment process as academic only has not been a holistic one, has not considered the depth of student experience for all students, and is therefore weak and unsuitable
     
  • The language of a full and final settlement with regards to strike issues is unfairly prescriptive for a process that (1) has not involved consistent student consultation despite it being about student experience, and (2) has not considered the entire bandwidth of impact to student experience. 

As they stand, compensation amounts are disproportionate to the extortionate fees students pay, and the institutional failure to deliver the full experience sold to and rightly expected by students.

This is particularly the case for international students. The existing scheme as final compensation offer is therefore incompatible with reality and unacceptable.

The lack of transparency has also been re-traumatising. 

A distinction has been drawn within the college’s response between the strike and the marking boycott on a technical basis. This is an underhanded reduction of lived realities, as student experience is not disjointed and cannot be considered as segmented, proving the compensation scheme to be inappropriate. The College has now opened a complaints process for anyone dissatisfied with the outcome of the Strike Assessment Scheme or any dissatisfaction resulting from the strikes specifically. There is no clarity provided to us on the process or timeline of complaints, with little likelihood that any outcome of complaining will come to students before the end of september. This is, again, highly unjust. 

 

What we demand and what you can do 

At this stage, you may be thinking of claiming the strike compensation offer, or submitting a complaint. Here are some factors for your consideration. By submitting the claim form, you are accepting the amount your programme has been offered as a full and final settlement in regards to the impact on your student experience from the strikes specifically. This might not include impact from the marking boycott. You will also be accepting that the impact on your learning in your programme is as indicated from the assessment in the email you received, mental health and student support notwithstanding. The deadline to submit the claim form on or before 5pm on 10 October 2022. If you wish to submit a complaint, note that it is not likely that a solution will be provided to you before the end of September. There is currently no clear timeline or complaints process made available to us. The college is sending out automatic responses at this moment. Crucially, it is unclear if submitting a complaint will affect anyone from claiming or receiving compensation later. 
 

It has come to our attention that students have been given 7 days to decline to receive compensation after submitting their claim. It is stated: 

 

If, on learning of the amount, you no longer wish to accept this payment, you must notify StrikeScheme@gold.ac.uk within 7 days and your application for an award under this scheme will be withdrawn. Otherwise, the payment will be paid directly into your bank account.

If you have submitted a claim, we do not advise declining to receive compensation after submitting the form. This would leave the possibility of receiving compensation open for you. Please consider your own circumstances and exhaust every avenue of complaint you’re entitled to, to empower your decision.

However, with the complaints process not being fully established, we do not currently know how making a complaint will affect the amount of compensation you will receive.

We also understand that the complaints process may entirely not benefit students whose circumstances or mental health struggles do not come with an institutional documentation (e.g. RASA).

We are appalled at the SMT’s backhanded compensation structure that penalises the student experience further. We are collating as much information as possible to fully inform a decision on claiming for students who have yet to submit the form, and will be pushing for reformed compensation that reflects the reality of impact to student experience. 

We also understand that some students may not have received the same (or any) compensation as their programme and course mates. We are seeking clarification on this as well. 

It is also important to note that the college’s industrial action complaints process is currently an extremely poor setup that does not apply to any impact caused by the marking boycott whose situation is rapidly changing and has no outcome yet. We currently understand that this is a fast-moving situation with shifts everyday. An official update regarding the boycott will be coming from the GUCU. 

We reject the prescriptive nature of the Strike Assessment Scheme and the brutal gaslighting and dilution of impact to Goldsmiths students’ and staffs’ lived realities.

We call on Goldsmiths SMT to revise the Strike Assessment Scheme and their overall response to student dissatisfaction by:

  • Engaging with us and conducting consistent student consultation
  • Commiting to full compatibility with the impact on student experience, acknowledging that neither student experience nor due support and compensation can be generalised.
  • Removing the accelerated deadline to compensation
  • Increasing transparency and accountability on the complaints processes for both impact by strikes and marking boycott, shortening the timeline of action 
  • Engaging independent parties and student representatives on all assessing panels 
  • Providing clear information on the Marking Boycott clarifying the situation and how students can seek support with their specific circumstances as a matter of urgency. This includes solutions that meet the multifaceted nature of issues ranging from and not limited to grading, graduation and scholarship to further education, housing and visas. 

Thank you for sticking with us through this update.

We know that the past year has been incredibly stressful and exhausting. We are doing everything we can to seek the above, the compensation you deserve, further information and support on the marking boycott. We will provide an update as soon as we can. 

With full solidarity and power,
Goldsmiths Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers