4th February 2014
Dear Professor Sir Richard Trainor KBE (Principal and President of King’s College London)
King’s College London,
On behalf of the student cohort of the MA in Cultural and Creative Industries, we hereby put forward this petition in relation to the recent UCU teachers’ strike for your review and consideration.
This petition addresses a level of dissatisfaction that MA Cultural and Creative Industries students at King’s College London are experiencing in the face of strike actions that are interrupting teaching hours. At the outset it must be emphasised that we support our lecturers’ participation in union strikes. Concerns about pay freezes in the face of increased living costs (especially in the capital) are not only understandable but are encouraged by many of us. Those of us who see our future in the academy particularly appreciate that these current actions may safeguard our future. Furthermore, as a diverse student-body we recognise that making academic work economically unsustainable only discourages inclusion –typically of those from lower economic groups, racial minorities, disabled people and women, all of whom have been disproportionately affected by recent austerity measures.
While fully supporting our lecturers’ motivations in striking we feel that diminishing our already limited teaching hours has caused us to be unfairly affected. These are our main issues with how this strike has been dealt with:
- Besides communication explaining when the strikes will disrupt our teaching hours (and one last week e-mail informing us of the disruption due to the tube strikes and the teacher strikes), no attempt has been made by the University or the College in communicating with us about how the management is dealing with the actions. This implies that the loss of teaching hours for students is seen as ‘collateral damage’. The authorities have hardly made any attempt to engage us in the debate and help us understand why and how are we being affected.
- As it has come to our attention that the academic staff have their wages deducted when participating in the strikes, we find that it is only meaningful that some of these deductions, on principle, are not held by the College when the strikes affect our education. Therefore in light of this, we are calling for a partial refund to our fees and want the refund to be given to the Student Union or transferred back to students. We ask for this as a way of highlighting our dual position as disadvantaged students and unsatisfied fee-payers.
- The MA CCI programme can easily be seen as one of the biggest Masters programme in terms of student intake, numbering at unusually high 160. Many of us are anyway struggling to create meaningful interaction time within the assigned 20-hour-per-module contact time. The College can hardly put a cost to the value gained out of and the possible loss of our chance at having meaningful cross-cultural learning (which this programme clearly implies to give us) due to the loss of 3-6 hours of contact time we are any facing owing to the strike. This is clearly unacceptable to us as students who are eager to learn and as people who have paid considerable fees.
We are therefore inviting higher KCL management to address our concerns. Since we have received little to no communication from staff outside of our department we assume that our satisfaction and success in our course is not of interest to higher managers. In the following paragraph we outline the rationale of how we have structured our fee refund bearing in mind the diverse fee status of our cohort, most of whom are international students.
We are expected to get around 120 contact hours of teaching time spread over the year. Provisionally, a way to work out the expected refund would cost per hour of lost tuition. This may be calculated by dividing tuition fees by contact hours. We have 160 credits, split into 6 modules and a dissertation (equivalent to 2 modules), this can be thought of as 8 lots of 20 credits.
AUK/EU student pays £10,000, so each 20 credit module costs them £1,250. As we have 20 contact hours over a semester, 1 hour of tuition = £62.5.
For International students who pay £16,750 and each 20 credit module costs £2093.75 this works out as £105 (rounded off) per tuition hour.
Therefore, an EU student who has lost 3 hours of contact time, including the strike action from last semester, may write 3 x £62.5 in the comment box.
We hope this petition gains attention from KCL higher management and supports our lecturers’ actions to gain a living standard wage. Furthermore we hope that our experiences in this turbulent time are recognised and the College takes measures to ensure it does not fail its students. Finally we hope that an internationally renowned educational institution of the calibre of King’s College London shows that it is as accountable to its key stakeholders, including students and teachers, as its remit of being a social institution implies.
On behalf of the students of MA Cultural and Creative Industries, 2013-14
On the petition students are invited to indicate the number of contact hours lost and the cost as per their fee status in the comments box. In doing this, students are asking for a refund proportional to these factors. Furthermore, students will use their KCL email address as a way of proving that they are part of the department. Equally, if any students are not seeking a refund but still want to support their lecturers they are encouraged to sign the form without indicating a refund value.