Staff at Goldsmiths, University of London were reassured their wages would still be paid in an email on Monday from the institution’s senior management team that reported a £16 million budget deficit and said the university had been “struck by a perfect financial storm”.
Goldsmiths’ Warden, Professor Frances Corner said the deficit was due to the university falling short of all recruitment targets, with fewer students returning to the university.
Hung Nguyen, journalism lecturer and member of the Goldsmiths University and College Union (GUCU) told ELL: “The huge deficit shows that senior managers at Goldsmiths have no clue how to turn things around. They thought they knew best and did not listen to staff, students and the union.”
“The arrogance, which led them to ignore the solutions that the Goldsmiths UCU proposed, made it even more difficult to make any improvements. Our union is also saying that the senior managers’ pay went from under £1 million in 2020 to more than £1.3 million in 2022, despite their disappointing performance.”
The email sent to all university staff members expressed that management are confident they have “sufficient cashflow to fulfil ongoing operational commitments, including being able to continue paying colleagues’ wages”.
Professor Corner said: “We’re absolutely committed to ensuring that the financial challenges won’t impact students’ learning or their time here at Goldsmiths. I want to give an assurance to all our students that they will receive all opportunities that were promised when they chose to study here.”
“The [government’s university] funding system is not working and needs a complete overhaul to make it sustainable and fair for students and universities. In a letter I wrote to the Education Secretary earlier this year I called for the Conservative Government to properly address this vital issue.”
“Instead, we have seen cuts to Goldsmiths central funding because of our London location and the kinds of subjects we teach, with the government seemingly giving less value to the arts and creative subjects, the humanities and social sciences.”
The university stated that over 75 per cent of Goldsmiths’ income comes from tuition fees and that Goldsmiths has been “struck by a perfect financial storm”.
A representative for the Goldsmith Student Union said to ELL: “The college has given us their absolute assurance that Goldsmiths will deliver students’ learning as promised and are committed to doing so.”
“We are engaged with the local unions and College management about this to stand up for the rights of our students. Our priority has and will always be to ensure students’ voices and rights are heard and upheld at Goldsmiths. We will continue to hold the college accountable.”
A recovery plan was implemented by the university in 2021, designed to see £9 million in savings this year according to the Goldsmiths, University of London financial report.
A Goldsmiths spokesperson told ELL: “We’re focused on putting things right, working with colleagues, students, and the unions to develop the long-term measures aimed at placing our finances on a sustained footing.”