Students have organised a peaceful protest on Wednesday 16th March during an open day to oppose the implementation of Project Transform in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (CLAS) and to raise concerns over academic redundancies.

The protest aims to highlight concerns that the roll out of Project Transform within the University will reduce support for students applying to the University’s CLAS next year and will affect support given to students during their year abroad.

Project Transform forms one facet of the University of Nottingham’s ‘Global Strategy 2020’, aiming to “strengthen education and research, improve on existing quality and offer a unique international approach for our students”.

In a video explaining what Project Transform aims to do, Vice-Chancellor Sir David Greenaway said: “Project Transform will provide a joined-up series of services that covers everything from initial inquiry right through to lifelong membership alumni community”.

He added that the system will serve to “put students right at the heart of what we do”.

However, many students from CLAS have expressed their concerns about the impact that the implementation will have on their year abroad and on staff members within the Faculty.

“We are mainly protesting because we feel that we have been kept in the dark about the changes that Project Transform will bring about”

The second year student who organised the protest, and asked to remain anonymous, told Impact that students are protesting because they feel that they have “been kept in the dark” about the changes that Project Transform will lead to in their schools.

They emphasised that their primary concern was ensuring that “next year’s students do not have the same problems”.

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised over Project Transform. Earlier this year, both current and former staff members from the University of Nottingham contacted Impact to express their concerns about the implementation of the system.

One staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, told Impact that whilst they believe that the new computer system will be a major improvement, “creating service centres and automating tasks is taking away the personal touch”.

The staff member continued: “This is supposed to be about the student experience but they won’t have that dedicated person to help”.

“The anonymous source alleged that potential students cannot book in for open days and enquiries appear to be lost”

When asked by Impact if they believed that the new system would be an improvement on the old system, the staff member in question responded that whilst a new student management system is “needed as Saturn is terrible”, staff members were not initially aware that this implied “a major admin restructure”.

It has also been revealed to Impact that ‘GoLive 2’ – the second phase of implementation – has led to difficulties for administrative staff members. The anonymous source alleged that potential students cannot book in for open days and enquiries appear to be lost.

Whilst the staff member in question did reveal that there have been consultation meetings with Admin, Professional and Management (APM) staff in order to allow them to voice their concerns, they stated that staff members still “cannot get any sense” of what the jobs they have to apply for entail or what the new system implies.

Students are now adding their voices to the concerns raised by staff members.

“The student said that they believed it would be “very attractive to students and parents” because it would show that “the student body is very active”

Explaining the purpose of the protest, the organiser of the student protest said: “We are opposing the roll out of Project Transform and how it will affect our year abroad next year”.

When asked about concerns raised by other students that this protest will cause a lack of admissions following the open day, the student said that they believed it would be “very attractive to students and parents” because it would show that “the student body is very active”.

Due to the increased presence of the campaign on social media, the event organiser had a meeting scheduled with the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Tuesday 15th March at 4pm.

The organiser told Impact that even if the Pro Vice-Chancellor were to explain exactly what Project Transform intends to do and how students and staff members will be affected, the protest will still go ahead because “if we cancel the protest, it will make us come across as weak” and “Project Transform will affect the whole University”.

Currently, the Facebook page ‘Oppose Project Transform and Academic Redundancies in CLAS’ has 687 members, with 172 students confirming that they will be attending the protest on Wednesday.

Impact has contacted the secretary of Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Jeremy Gregory, for a comment and is awaiting a response.

Tamsin Parnell

Image: Peaceful Protest Against Project Transform and Academic Redundancies on Facebook

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