Throughout this year, students across the college have requested increased opening hours so that they have more time to access their studios. Read more on this article.
Throughout this year, students across the college have requested increased opening hours so that they have more time to access their studios. The requests come from students of all demographics, but particularly from those who are working side jobs to pay for their education here, and those who have caring responsibilities. Their arguments included that they wanted to use the time to make the best work they could, to succeed in their courses, and they referenced the later hours that existed before Covid (8:30 pm-midnight on weekdays, 10 am-6 pm on weekends).
The RCA SU presented this case to the college at the beginning of the year, and have continued to follow it up each term. You can see discussions of the issue, including feedback from students and staff in the minutes of the assembly of the College Assembly in term one, the Battersea Campus Assembly, College Assembly, School of Design, and School of Art Humanities Assemblies in term two, and the Battersea and Kensington Campus Assemblies, as well as School of Design and School of Arts and Humanities Assemblies in term 3. We heard many informal replies - that the opening hours are already published on the website, that towards the end of the day there are not many students on campus, that the college would have to increase tuition fees in order to extend hours. Sculpture students who staged a sit-in to demonstrate the importance of this request were issued a warning, stating that while the college “respect[s] all students' right to protest and their freedom of speech, this must not be in contravention of RCA rules and procedures” and that they “will not hesitate to take the necessary Disciplinary measures if [they] become aware that students are staying on College grounds past the stated opening hours”. The message did not address the request for extending opening hours, only stated that “Our campus opening hours are clearly stated in both the Student Handbook and on the intranet.”
We continued to push for a formal response detailing if hours would be extended or not, in response to the many requests, and if not, why not - what factors made this difficult for the college, what is being prioritised instead. We finally received a verbal confirmation from the Head of Student Experience in our SoAH assembly, stating that “it was most likely that the opening hours won’t change because they are set at the beginning of the year”. We requested a formal reply, and on 19th May received this email, which reiterates that “the College Opening hours were published ahead of the 2022/23 academic year,” and states that “there is no evidence that later opening is required for students to complete their studies.” It does confirm that “the College will not be making changes to the 2022/23 opening hours.” We shared this with students in our SoAH minutes, available on our website here.
That email went some of the way towards a formal response, but still didn’t answer questions of what the college is prioritising instead of opening hours, and more importantly, was not communicated directly from the college to all students, as we have requested. Finally, a student representative from the School of Design submitted a complaint, and was offered a thorough formal response (sent only to the student, and ourselves). The response was not favourable, but it was an important step in communication, and we were glad to see it. We immediately requested that, as an important part of closing the feedback loop and showing their respect to their students’ requests and opinions, the college share this with all students. Unfortunately, they have declined to do so. Instead, we share it with you here.
This may be the end of the line now, but we are sure the college will face these requests again and again in the coming years (as they have in the past). If you would like to reach out to us about anything mentioned here, please email email@example.com.
Document on the response the students received about the College Opening Hours:
Delivered on the 26th of May 2023