Please join us in expressing your support for students.
We have written the below letter to Vice-Chancellor Paul Thompson.
Please join us in writing to Senior Management expressing your support for Leave of Absence students, and your opposition to the Colleges decision to change their return of study date. You can add your name to the end of this letter by filling in this form.
If you are a Leave of Absence student that has been affected by this, please get in touch. We can help guide you through this process, and connect you with other students that have been affected.
Dear Vice-Chancellor Paul Thompson,
We are writing this letter in support of Leave of Absence students, and to publicly express our perspective of the College’s carelessness in regards to these students' return to study. We are making this letter public as our members need to be made aware of these failures, and if they wish to write to Senior Management directly about this, they are free to do so.
Due to poor planning, 220 Leave of Absence students have recently been told that they will no longer be able to return to their studies in September 2021 as the College informed them before, but instead in January 2022. This means they will have to complete their final term over the summer break. This is a result of poor organisation and management of the Battersea South project, and consequently, negatively affects the lives of many students.
Battersea South is a £136 million project that involves building an expansive research centre as well as studio and learning spaces, largely for courses at RCA that best align with the Government's priority “S.T.E.M” subjects. It is widely known that the opening of Battersea South was to be delayed as early as January 2021 and it was confirmed to RCA staff members in February 2021 that the campus would not open in September 2021 as planned. Despite this, an executive decision was still made to retain student recruitment targets that were predicted based on Battersea South being open in September 2021. RCASU recognises that this decision has huge negative ramifications on the current Leave of Absence students as they are being asked to study outside of the usual academic year. LOA students were also not given sufficient notice, and although they were told that their return date wasn’t guaranteed, it was never indicated that it was even possible that the College was able to extend a term over the summer break.
Most of the 220 students who took LOA chose to defer their studies because of the effect Covid-19 had on their studies and wanted to return when they could work with a cohort and participate in a large physical show. On 20 April 2021 RCASU were informed that students who had taken Leave of Absence and were expecting to return in September 2021 were no longer going to be invited back because the College did not have sufficient space to accommodate them until the Battersea South building was complete. This means that these LOA students will not be able to start until January 2022, and will be completing their final term over the summer break, when most staff take their annual holiday leave, there is reduced service of technical facilities, and most importantly they will not be with their cohort or, be able to participate in a large and prominent final exhibition. This complete oversight to inform colleagues of the delay to the project is emblematic of careless management, and of disregard for students that have already paid their fees and entered the RCA system, and their personal life plannings.
We ask that you and RCA SMT come to a resolution to alleviate this problem that negatively affects many of our members and outline it in an open letter to the student body.
RCASU Co-Presidents, Marnie Hamilton and Chenyu Shen