By a City of Glasgow College student
Staff and students must stand together to fight college bosses’ cuts!
At the beginning of 2023, the City of Glasgow College management dropped a bombshell on their staff and students. In a unilateral move, without consulting staff or their union, the management declared a series of measures that drastically altered the academic landscape: voluntary severance, staff cuts, a reshuffled academic timetable, which cut contact time for students and the introduction of ‘blended learning’, meaning less face-to-face interaction and more Zoom lectures.
The institution’s principal, Paul Little, justified these actions as a ‘necessary response to financial pressures’. Yet it is hard to reconcile this narrative with his personal annual earnings of £170,000, and a total remuneration package of around £215,000. Moreover, Mr. Little’s international business trips, costing the college an additional £27,000, only add to the dissonance. The striking contrast between the principal’s extravagant spending and the cuts to teaching time is a glaring example of misplaced priorities.
The repercussions of these decisions are expected to be severe:
- About 70 lecturers face job losses, threatening their livelihoods and adding pressure on the remaining staff.
- Timetable changes, scheduled breaks during lecture times, and unpaid work further undermine the hard work that lecturers put into supporting students.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, especially considering the wealth that seems to be readily available for those in higher management.
In February, the Glasgow City College branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) took a stand, arranging a meeting with management to voice opposition to the proposed cuts. Unfortunately, this initiative was met with an iron wall, with management not only going ahead with the cuts but also announcing 100 more staff cuts! Management’s claim of lack of funding doesn’t seem to add up when juxtaposed with the severity of the staff cuts and reduced teaching time.
Lecturers fight back
Lecturers have responded with industrial action, at present short of a strike, including removing online class materials and withholding grades until their demands are met. If the college management continues to disregard their voices, EIS members are prepared to take further measures, including a full-out strike.
In the coming week, a demonstration is planned outside the college, along with a leafleting campaign to inform students about the ongoing situation. These efforts aim to rally students and spark discussions about the college’s actions.
Students’ support is vital
Whilst this action disrupts our studies in the immediate term, it’s crucial to understand that this struggle is in our interests in the long term. An educational institution, like our college, is only as strong as its staff. Cuts and reduction in face-to-face teaching time are a direct blow to the quality of our education. By standing with our lecturers, we are not merely showing solidarity. We are fighting for a better and more equitable educational system.
This struggle at COGC is not isolated. It is part of the broader struggle of the working class against the crisis imposed on us by the capitalist profit system. In the last year, many workers, including rail and postal workers, junior doctors, and health workers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, have taken to the streets demanding fair treatment and respect for their labour. This wave of collective action demonstrates the power of unity, the strength of the working class, and the potential for change.
We stand at a critical juncture. We can either stay silent and accept the imposed changes or stand up, show solidarity, and fight for a more equitable education system and society. Let’s choose the latter. Let’s stand with our lecturers, and let’s stand for our future.