Press Release on Goldsmiths Staff Vote of No Confidence in the Senior Management Team

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Staff at Goldsmiths, University of London, have called a vote of no confidence in the university’s Senior Management Team (SMT).  The move follows SMT’s continued plans for a restructuring which includes the appointment of further highly-paid senior managers and the reduction of administrative support, having dropped the unpopular plans earlier in the year.   

The motion underpinning the vote addresses SMT’s ‘Restructuring Framework’, saying that ‘SMT have lost all credibility by refusing to engage with staff seeking consultation for the past six months.’  The ‘Restructuring Framework’ will include securing a bank loan while committing to a restructuring.  This is expected to include closing courses/departments, and further redundancies beyond those which recently occurred through a Voluntary Severance Scheme and the non-renewal of temporary contracts for Associate Lecturers (who are disproportionately BME).  Yet at the same time, SMT is not only appointing further senior managers but also pursuing an ‘Enterprise Hub’ costing at least £8.8m, instead of directing funds to save jobs and deliver the teaching which students expect.   

The vote is being held now because SMT plan to apply for a bank loan and launch a ‘Recovery Framework’ that will change Goldsmiths beyond recognition. The time window to influence this will close in late November. 

Long-term failings in SMT’s coordination of professional services are highlighted, including a major IT failure at the start of the academic year which lasted several days and caused chaos – the result of under-investment in key tools for effective teaching, particularly in Covid-19 conditions.  Meanwhile, despite staff working exceptionally hard to deliver high quality teaching and pastoral care, SMT have conceived of, constructed and continued to pursue a culture of blame.  This has further disadvantaged BME and women staff, and significantly undermined staff morale.  Back in June, the institution’s own ‘Staff Pulse’ survey found that only 11% of staff felt either extremely confident or very confident in SMT to make the right choices for Goldsmiths. 

While SMT have often proven unable to deal with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, there has been considerable hardship on campus that remains unaddressed, plus an ongoing refusal to engage in any form of meaningful consultation. 

The motion concludes with calls for: 

  •  An immediate pause to the current Recovery Framework
  •  An immediate pause on the development of the Enterprise Hub
  •  Genuine consultation with staff on how to sustain and advance the future of Goldsmiths as a nationally and internationally esteemed teaching and research institution

The vote has been called by members of the ‘Collective Change’ group and the ‘Professors Forum’, and is endorsed by Goldsmiths University and College Union (GUCU) and Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action (GARA).