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Birmingham City Students’ Union has issued a statement about the cuts being made across the university, including the School of Media (which gets a special mention). In “Students’ Union Statement on Cuts” (24 June 2010), the union says it will work on both national and university levels to support, protect and represent students who are affected by and/or concerned about the cuts. Here’s an extract:
With regards to cuts within Birmingham City University, the Union will work hard to support students who are worried their courses will be affected. Whilst we believe in principle that there should not be further cuts to departments across the University, we will focus our campaigning activities at a national level as part of wider coalition-based campaigning where we believe we can have the most impact and the best chance to influence policy makers. Within the University, we intend to ensure that students are able to voice their concerns and make their views known concerning proposed cuts at every level of the University. For example, we have recently supported students from the Media School to meet with the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Media and English to raise their concerns regarding proposed cuts to their school.
The Union will continue to put pressure on the University to ensure that the student experience is placed above all other concerns when discussions are taking place regarding cuts. We will ensure that the student voice is heard loud and clear at all stages, and work with students from all areas of the University to address particular concerns as they arise. We will be paying particular attention to issues that students already express concern over, including class sizes, the facilities available to students and the number of contact hours students have.
The Birmingham Post‘s Nick McCarthy has written an interesting article about the salaries of university vice-chancellors in the West Midlands, including BCU’s very own David Tidmarsh. From “Cuts at universities, while vice chancellors enjoy huge salaries and perks” (1 July 2010):
University chiefs in the West Midlands are being paid twice as much as the Prime Minister – and enjoying a string of lavish perks – as they wield the axe on staff and courses.An investigation by the Birmingham Post has revealed the salary-and-benefits packages of globe-trotting vice chancellors at a time when the coalition Government has called for cuts restraint in public spending.Angry unions have warned hundreds of staff will be made redundant and courses will be scrapped as universities grapple with 25 per cent cuts. They have accused the vice chancellors of “living like viceroys”.…Birmingham City University’s vice chancellor David Tidmarsh received an inflation-busting 10 per cent pay increase from £213,843 in 2007-08 to £237,864 in 2008-09. He claimed a relatively modest £700 in expenses for the same time period.All of the universities are making redundancies.Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a scathing attack on the salaries of vice-chancellors, who he described as being “out of touch with reality on pay levels.”Mr Cable said: “It is critical that all of us who receive public funds to provide public services play our part in reducing the burden of public debt and restoring financial health.“We are expecting the Business, Innovation and Skills Department to apply restraint on all aspects of pay and bonuses with a lead being given by senior staff.“We expect universities and colleges will wish to do the same.”In a letter sent to universities, also signed by University Minister David Willetts, Mr Cable said: “All universities have the right and responsibility to make your own decisions. Nonetheless, we hope you will bear in mind these expectations that we are applying elsewhere across publicly funded agencies and services.”Mr Cable said: “Although it is not our job to control pay, we want to signal to the universities that there has got to be some restraint.”Martin Machon, regional officer for the University and College Union (UCU), said staff would be “shocked and horrified” about chauffeurs, rent-free houses and expensive artwork.He said: “University staff are being made redundant in their hundreds across the Midlands and we now hear that vice chancellors are receiving huge annual pay increases and are living with all the trappings of a viceroy.“It is the old issue of spending other people’s money. They should set an example in these difficult times and should consider pay cuts like the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.”Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: “At a time when vice chancellors are already pushing for students and their families to pay more to access their universities it is disappointing that they think it is acceptable to claim such luxuries.“The Government has just announced another round of cuts to university funding and students cannot be expected to pay for these kinds of extravagances.”PAY AND BONUSES OF THE VICE CHANCELLORS…Birmingham City University – Vice chancellor Prof David TidmarshSalary: 07/08 – £213,84308/09 – £237,864 (Unable to provide details for 09/10)The University also paid pensions contributions worth £32,021* Expenses (including personal expense claims, travel and credit card payments): £705.38* Accommodation: None
Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University London and former editor of the Daily Mirror, has written about the cuts to the Birmingham School of Media on his blog on The Guardian website. From “Journalism students angry at cutbacks” (7 June 2010):
There are concerns among students at Birmingham City University’s school of media that it is to be subject to immediate cuts of £230,000.
They believe it will have a severe impact on the provision of teaching and technical staff, resources, and academic research.
A student emailed me to say: “We are currently trying to mount a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and to perhaps generate solutions.”
BCU’s student radio station Scratch Radio aired a special programme about the cuts to the Faculty of Performance, Media and English (PME), including the School of Media, and to the wider university. You can listen to highlights from the show (broadcast on 28 May 2010) here:
In the studio for the debate were BCU Students’ Union President Tom Tom, SU Communications Officer (and BCU Media graduate) Kat Higgs, and media undergraduates Adam Stewart, James Abbott, and Eddy Durnan. The show was co-presented by Dan Richards and Ben Stones.