Royal College of Art: No to the Virtual Show!
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No to the Virtual Show with provisions for Tier 4 International Students:
Without notifying any of us, instead, sneaking it into their FAQ's on their website, the college decided to switch all courses, even studio-based practices, to virtual learning. Furthermore, they will have all students graduate at the same time with a 'virtual degree show'. They have suggested that if we don't want to accept this and take a leave of absence, we are not guaranteed a degree show at all.
This student body, and those who have signed this petition, deem this to be unacceptable, unempathetic and simply ludicrous. An art or design degree without a physical degree show is not an art and design degree.
We refer you again to our request to postpone and suspend our education until it is safe for us to return to our studios, make use of our workshops, collaborate together, speak to our tutors face-to-face and make work in safety for ourselves and others. We believe this should be a minimum of two months before a degree show build begins and/or term extensions based on the length of time this pandemic could affect the daily lives of many.
Further, we are asking for the Royal College of Art to fully support our international students. We have identified the UK government's position on Tier 4 Visa extension* and ask them to listen to official advice and accommodate. The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences mean a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.
With this being a viable option for the university to take, we expect that the university will take action to ensure the safe continuation of all students while considering the negative impacts the handling of this will undoubtedly have on current and future students seeking to study at the university. As a student body we are united in finding solutions to support all students.
What senior management is failing to see is an opportunity. An opportunity to create a show that lives long in the memory. We, as creatives, cannot focus on making work right now. We want to help, look after, and care for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities without the anxiety of a callously enforced deadline. The spirit and community between us, after safely returning to the studios, would no doubt lead to a show that could cement the RCA as the 'No.1 Art and Design' college. Not just for its research, creativity and innovation, but for it's the ability to band together at a time of crisis, showing compassion and comradery.
Instead, if you continue with this current course of action, you will deeply anger and upset the student body and crush the spirits of everyone.
Yours, In hope
* 'The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.'
Original letter to Shut the Royal College of Art and Postpone Our Education:
Dear Senior Management (Paul, Ken, Naren, John, Rathna and Adrian)
Due to the COVID-19 Crisis, we are calling for the shutting of all Royal College of Art buildings and a FULL suspension and postponement of its programmes until it is safe for ALL students to return and work in the studios effectively and efficiently. There should be an immediate pause in all educational activity. Courses should only resume when it is safe for face-to-face meetings, and students have the ability to utilise both studios and workshops, both collaboratively and independently, without fear, uncertainty and guilt.
We are adamant that this is the only way to prepare and deliver the highest standard of our degree show, that represents both ourselves and the reputation of the RCA (No.1 Art and Design School in the world). We believe this action is integral not only to ensure the safety of ourselves, loved ones and wider society but also to upholding the integrity of the agreement we have entered into with The Royal College of Art.
We believe that:
- Online tutorials are not tutorials
- Home Studios are not Studios or Workshops
- Suggesting students can still travel in, when the admin and tutors stay away, is irresponsible, hypocritical and dangerous.
After speaking with our wider community of artists and friends at schools such as The Slade and The Royal Academy, we understand that they are preparing for October Degree shows with access to their studios over the summer period. We expect at least the same privilege as them, especially at a world leading arts institute.
By granting this request, we can go and help our families, vulnerable people and wider society and act as responsible, empathetic citizens, safe in the knowledge that we will resume our education with full tutoring, workshop access, crits and activities vital to each specific programme.
We encourage you to act with compassion, kindness, and a commitment to obligation in the coming days, weeks and months.
Yours, in faith
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