Friday, 27 February 2009

Arts London News

photo by Oliver Lafci

Unhappy Sudents Occupy Byam Shaw
Steffan Thompson

25th of February 2009

Disillusioned students from the Byam Shaw site of Central Saint Martin's are staging an occupation of the building, over complaints about resources. The occupation of the Byam Shaw building, which began on Wednesday, February 18, is the last resort for the group of students at the college who say they have been "ignored for long enough" regarding certain issues at the college including alleged expenditures of students' money as well as the decrease of tutorial hours.Last week, the group, whose movement is known as the Byam Shaw People's University, sent a letter to Nigel Carrington, Rector of the University, Jane Rapley, Head of Central Saint Martin's, and Alister Warman, Head of college at Byam Shaw, with a list of demands including direct employment of the students and work studio opening times to be reviewed. They also stated that unless they received legally binding written confirmation of their stipulations they would not cease the occupation of Byam Shaw.The students occupying the building met with Jane Rapley, on Friday, to discuss the demands on the letter but the head of CSM turned down most of them. Rapley however, did apologise for the lack of effective communication between the University and the students. A statement from the group read: "The students of Byam Shaw have become increasingly dissatisfied with the way that higher education is being delivered. It was felt that joining the University of Arts London and in particular our amalgamation with Central St Martin's would provide a way to preserve the identity of the school within a higher education system where independent colleges are fast disappearing. What has instead resulted is a 16% drop in teaching hours, fewer resources and less access to facilities".Jenny Cumming, a BA fine arts student who is part of the group, believes the occupation shouldn't come as a revelation to anyone in the higher educational authorities, "We feel that the occupation is necessary and we're very determined to get what we want. There seems to be a general unrest in higher education so this really shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody." The university and head of college were unavailable to comment as the protest continues.

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