A group of 35 students from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (CLAS) gathered in Trent Courtyard this morning to oppose proposed academic redundancies in their departments.

As part of the Arts Portfolio Review, completed by Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Arts, Jeremy Gregory, last last year, it has been proposed that 11.5 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff members from the departments of Archaeology, Theology and Religious Studies, German Studies, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and Russian and Slavonic Studies will lose their jobs.

The redundancies are part of a broader restructuring of CLAS, in which there are plans to create a single Department of Modern Languages and Cultures to take effect in August 2017.

“The protestors also […] held individual letters which combined to present the question: ‘Are you listening, Jeremy?'”

The protest began at 8.45 am and continued throughout the morning, with students holding signs reading ‘no to staff cuts, protect our languages’, ‘oppose staff redundancies’ and ‘staff not stats’, chanting “no ifs, no buts, no CLAS staff cuts”.

The protestors also organised themselves into a line opposite the Trent clock and held individual letters which combined to present the question: ‘Are you listening, Jeremy?’ – a direct call on the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Arts to listen to their ongoing efforts to demonstrate that students “do care about the working conditions of our staff”.

The demonstration was peaceful, with students offering leaflets to passersby to explain why the protests have been taking place.

Olivia Hellewell, a PhD student studying Translation Studies with Slovene, told Impact that many students have been “surprised” to find out that the changes are taking place.

She added: “One of the worst things about this Arts Portfolio Review is that it was announced to staff and they were not allowed to communicate it to students”.

“There has been no official announcement or communication to students, despite us having official meetings with the Registrar and the Pro-Vice Chancellor. As a result, there are hundreds of students that don’t know that they could come back to University next term and find their courses completely changed”, she claimed.

“We’ve all got work to do, but if we didn’t say something now then students wouldn’t know how their staff were being treated”

The students also expressed their indignation that they had to raise awareness of the cuts in what they felt was an absence of the University’s voice on the matter. Olivia acknowledged that this “shouldn’t be our job” and that “we’ve all got work to do, but if we didn’t say something now then students wouldn’t know how their staff were being treated”.

As part of their attempts to raise awareness of the proposed changes, students from CLAS have also placed posters and leaflets explaining the situation around Hallward Library. The University and College Union’s newsletter, addressing the proposed changes in relation to their insitution’s priorities, can also be found in Trent Building, providing students with the opportunity to obtain more information.

This protest is one of many organised recently by students to oppose the restructuring of CLAS at the University of Nottingham. At the end of last term, several students participated in a peaceful protest during a UCAS Offer Holders’ Day to oppose the ongoing implementation of Project Transform and its impact on their course provisions.

“We’re not naive enough to think that the University is going to back down on decisions which involve millions of pounds”

When asked what it was hoped these protests will achieve, the students said: “We wanted to make our voices heard. However, we’re not naive enough to think that the University is going to back down on decisions which involve millions of pounds”.

Ultimately, the students highlighted their hopes that the University’s management would now recognise that students do care about decisions affecting their staff members.

Tamsin Parnell

Image: Impact News

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