Art Students Demand Justice For Failed Education

by Harriet Orrey-Godden

Art Students Demand Justice For Failed Education

by Harriet Orrey-Godden
Harriet Orrey-Godden
Case Owner
Postgraduate Art students are challenging Glasgow school of art for underprovided education. We seek solutions that effectively mitigate the disruption to our education.
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Harriet Orrey-Godden
Case Owner
Postgraduate Art students are challenging Glasgow school of art for underprovided education. We seek solutions that effectively mitigate the disruption to our education.
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We are crowdfunding to legally challenge The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) over their failure to provide the education we paid for. We believe GSA must be held accountable.


WHO ARE WE?

We are a group of postgraduate students from GSA, studying on 1-year Masters courses in Art and Design disciplines such as Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Printmaking, Fashion and Product Design. Our courses depend on access to studio space, technical workshops, equipment, materials, specialist software and technology. Access to these facilities is an essential component to our studies and the main reason why artists choose a postgraduate degree at GSA.


OUR STORY

We were six months into a 12-month course when the first lockdown happened in March 2020. GSA chose to cancel the remaining seven weeks of the semester, two days after campus closed. We had no contact from our tutors for 10 weeks whilst other universities (like the University of Glasgow) were tutoring students online within a few weeks. GSA management instructed tutors not to speak to us during this time. Course work and essays that were due were cancelled, which meant we lost the opportunity to develop our written work and creative development. We were assessed on work to date, but not allowed to submit new work and received no feedback.

Online learning replaced our practical arts courses for the final semester. Most of us had no way of making work in our home or bedroom, and GSA simply told us to ‘adapt’. We continued to be charged full tuition fees for studio-based courses with no access to studios and workshops, and charged for seven weeks that were cancelled.

Our degree show were also cancelled, which meant that we missed the chance to meet curators, galleries, collectors, and art-dealers, a pivotal moment for progression into the art world and another key reason for studying at GSA.

GSA gave us two options, continue with remote learning or withdraw from the course with no assurance of re-entry in the future. 

GSA's decisions heightened anxieties further as students were already experiencing financial stress and declining mental health due to losing part time work, no furlough due to insecure job contracts or working in high-risk environments as key workers.


AN ALREADY BLIGHTED YEAR 

This followed an already disrupted year for our cohort, impacted by mismanaged studio and workshop access, UCU strikes and closure of the student union. 

GSA had not prepared enough studio spaces for Masters students at the start of term, resulting in limited access for many in the first semester. Some students waited up to 14 weeks to access their technical workshop due to facilities not being ready and a mismanaged allocation system.

University and College Union (UCU) strikes led to a total of six weeks of cancelled seminars, lectures and tutorials, which were never replaced.

In December 2019, the student union arts bar and venue closed due to financial difficulty. We lost a valuable resource, the social hub for students and a place to get affordable hot food and drinks on campus.


WHY LEGAL ACTION?

Over the past year we have appealed to our university through the internal complaint procedure. We asked for solutions that effectively mitigate the disruption to our education.

  • A pause option: Suspend studies until it is safe to return to campus learning, a viable option for those who have no way of making work in lockdown.
  • A partial refund of fees; To reflect the difference between studio-based learning and remote learning, a viable option for students who are unable to take a break from studies, and to reflect the missing seven weeks of the course.

Our complaints and suggestions were rejected by GSA.

We then complained to the educational ombudsmen. Their investigation found that GSA's arrangements for managing quality and securing academic standards are currently limited. They judged that the quality of the student learning experience and the academic standards of the awards GSA offers would continue to be placed at risk if they did not take action. 

Read the report here:

https://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviewing-highereducation/quality-assurance-reports/Glasgow-School-of-Art/.

An online course does not amount to the same value as a fully facilitated, practical Arts degree.

The Glasgow School of Art have delivered a fraction of the education they promised whilst keeping thousands of pounds in student fees. We left feeling cheated, with our future careers compromised.

With the backing of the ombudsmen’s report, we are seeking partial refunds and a pause option, the only fair solutions to compensate for a diminished quality of education.

Our target amount will pay for legal representation to challenge GSA over their actions.

Thank you for reading our story, we hope you can support our case.

All donations welcome, however small.


We give thanks to the national Pause or Pay campaign, who continue to support us and many other students across the country. To find out more about this campaign, visit: www.pauseorpayuk.org.

Follow us on Instagram @artschoolracket




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