UAL Implement Better Covid-19 Protections for Students

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UAL has an opportunity to do right by its student, recognise the global outcry against digital art degrees, and ensure that its students are fully supported in this time of crisis. The immense trauma and stress of living through a global pandemic and a developing economic recession, and the uncertainty of our future is debilitating. Decisions about the restructuring of our courses, and the university wide move to digital learning have been made without consultation or consent from students. Our voice and our agency over our education has been robbed from us. To assume that one solution will work for every student is to ignore the immense variety of circumstances students currently find themselves in. It ignores the underlying class issues which this pandemic has only made more pressing. Online learning is rife with class inequality and access issues. Student’s ability to access equipment, fast and reliable internet, and the necessary software is a privilege only available to some. We cannot be expected to continue without the university providing equal access to these resources.

 

We ask the University to consider the following policies:

1. UAL begin negotiating with students in active meetings, to better understand  student’s situations, and to create an alternative approach which satisfies our needs. Student Union officers must consulted on all current and future actions. The student body and all elected officials must be consulted on all decisions made.

2. Graduating students  receive a physical degree show which takes place in the allocated spaces (White and Black Labs, the Mezzanine, and the Platform Theatre), as well as a full term of access to technical workshops, studios, materials, and staff in order to prepare. We would also like to see detailed plans for how the university plans to ensure international students’ access to these resources if UK lockdown is not lifted before their visas end, or they are unable to return to the UK.

3. No student should be required to engage with online learning if they do not wish to do so, and the university must work with students to create adequate alternatives including suspension of studies. The university must do everything in its power to support students in these alternatives, including support for funding, housing, or visas where it is relevant.

4. Implement a UAL wide no detriment policy in response to the global pandemic. Additionally all students should receive university wide extensions reflecting the loss of working time students have suffered while waiting to receive details about their courses and projects.

5. Students who are unable to access a full term of technical workshops, studios, and materials and/or a physical degree show should receive a partial tuition compensation which reflects the loss of these resources (including first and second year students).

6. UAL  must expand its mental health offerings in order to reflect the trauma of this crisis. More funds and increased staff need to be dedicated to supporting students effected by this crisis. Guided meditations and virtual yoga classes, although a valuable addition, are not in any way adequate substitutes to professional mental health support.

7. International students should be guaranteed the same access to options as any home or EU students. This means the university must allocate every possible measure of support in providing students with visa sponsorship, application fees, and security of accommodation and living costs.

8. Immediately stop charging students currently residing in UAL student accommodation rent, and must offer refunds to students who have been forced to move out due to the pandemic. It is immoral to ignore the financial crisis which students are facing.

9. UAL should provide full pay for outsourced workers and agency staff. It is UAL’s responsibility to offer them the same security and support it would offer to any other member of UAL staff.