The UCU members of the Centre for Academic Language and Literacies (CALL) have written the following statement to register our concern over proposals for the Connected Curriculum, and over our role in administering and delivering it.
In our view, the most troubling aspect of the Connected Curriculum is that it is envisaged as accounting for a substantial proportion of an undergraduate degree. Departments who are not granted an opt out will be required to remove 45 credits of subject-specific learning over the first two years of undergraduate degrees. The loss of 30 credits – or one quarter of the total – in the first year is particularly concerning as programmes have been carefully developed to ground students within their subject and provide a base for continuing study and increased specialisation at years two and three.
All the proposals we have seen, including the most recent, name CALL as the department responsible for delivering all three modules, and for administering the Connected Curriculum as a whole. CALL is a small department comprising nine full-time lecturers, a HoD, a Centre Manager and a Programme Support Officer. The Connected Curriculum is envisaged as a College-wide programme delivered to most Undergraduate students. The amount of work involved in syllabus design, content creation, departmental liaison, and the planning for delivery is huge, and we are concerned that we have been tasked with this without either clear and detailed estimations of the nature or quantity of the work involved, or an indication of the resources which will be made available to us. Communication thus far has been lacking. Although the need for CALL to be provided with more resources has been stated in the most recent information regarding the Connected Curriculum, we remain concerned at the size of the task.
We are concerned that such an ambitious programme is being developed and pushed through at too fast a pace. The Connected Curriculum consultation process seems rushed, with departments given very tight turn-arounds to provide feedback on the proposed curriculum, as outlined in the statements issued by Sociology and MCCS. Student consultation has been minimal, and we share Goldsmiths UCU’s (GUCU) view that it has not been meaningful. Following this brief consultation, and before the Connected Curriculum can be rolled out, almost all programmes have to submit to the Comprehensive Curriculum Review (CCR) at the modular level for reapproval within a tight time-frame. This is a huge task, and undergraduate degree programmes have to also make space for the Connected Curriculum and/or submit an opt-out request which itself requires extensive evidencing and documentation. It is concerning that adequate time has not been allowed for a change of this magnitude to be scrutinised more rigorously, consulted on more meaningfully and planned more methodically and transparently.
As well as offering a diminished educational offering to students, we are concerned that the removal of three subject-specific modules (45 credits) from undergraduate programmes in departments in which the Connected Curriculum is fully imposed could trigger redundancies and reduce the proportion of subject-specific staff employed, thus tipping Goldsmith’s employment practices further towards precarity. Although the staffing plan for the Connected Curriculum has not been communicated, in the context of the current redundancies at Goldsmiths, this is a concern.
From the evidence available it seems clear that the Connected Curriculum is integral to the restructure currently underway at Goldsmiths which is being vigorously resisted by GUCU. As GUCU members we must reiterate that it is also our view that the 16 redundancies being made are financially unnecessary. In conclusion, we the undersigned are concerned that we are being tasked with implementing a Connected Curriculum which is being introduced with minimal communication or information regarding planning and ultimately threatens job security in the wider university.