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CSU's Letter To The Courtauld's Vice Chancellor

The picket today, Friday 16 March, the last day of the current strike action (Photo: Tessa Carr)

Today, on the last day of the first wave of UCU strike action, Rebecca Morris, the Courtauld's Students' Union President, sent a letter to Professor Debby Swallow on behalf of students. The letter covers issues such as calls for tuition fee refunds, the impact the strike has had on students, and some of the positive outcomes of the strike. Read it in full below:

Dear Debby,

I am writing on behalf of the students affected by the strike action taken by UCU members in response to proposed cuts to their pensions under the Universities Superannuation Scheme. I would like to thank you and your colleagues in the Senior Management Team for your communications to students and staff during the strike and for publicly stating your wish that the situation is quickly resolved. We are also very grateful for your decision that the wages lost by those on strike will be dedicated to student support.

As you are aware, the loss of teaching time incurred as a result of the strike is a source of great concern for our students. Having paid tuition fees ranging from £9,000 to £23,227 per annum to study with us at The Courtauld our students expect a certain amount of contact hours and other support from the teaching faculty for their money which, as a result of the strike, has been removed during the past four weeks. Many students have contacted the Students’ Union to request compensation for the impact upon their education.

I am writing today to ask that you and your team consider giving compensation to all students affected by the strike.

During the industrial action our students have shown admirable dedication to the Courtauld in many ways, for some this manifested as a desire to stand with those on strike by supporting their picket line and joining them on the March for Education, for others this manifested as a desire to use Courtauld facilities as normal, continuing as best as possible with their normal routine. The Students’ Union has been inspired and encouraged by the actions of our students during the industrial action and we wish to thank them for their work, in whatever form it took. We thank in particular the editorial board of the Courtauldian, our student newspaper, who have worked tirelessly to keep students updated with issues surrounding the strike.

We would also like to thank members of Courtauld UCU who organised a wonderful and rich schedule of ‘Teach Out’ sessions which took Art History all across London and included studio visits, gallery talks and discussion events.

We are grateful to all members of the Courtauld community who have come together to support students during the industrial action, in particular, our colleagues in Student and Academic Services who have shown great commitment to their work and to ensuring that impact on students is minimised.

Despite the challenging circumstances caused by the industrial action, this has been a time in which many of us were able to come together as a community in new ways. Many new friendships and bonds of solidarity were formed in the days of the strike between those on the picket line and those inside the Institute.

As we look forward to the beginning of the Summer Term and thus the beginning of the second assessment period we hope very much that any further impact on students is minimised as much as possible, we offer our support in working towards this.

With very best wishes and thanks,


President of the Students’ Union

On Wednesday 21 March at 4pm, there will be an all students meeting about the UCU strike action in the Kenneth Clark lecture theatre. This will be run by Dean and Deputy Director Tony Eastmond.

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