GLASGOW School of Art bosses have been accused of lacking in compassion by forcing students to pay full fees for a postgraduate course they say was heavily disrupted even before the coronavirus lockdown.

Students say they will have missed four months of a year-long MLitt in Fine Art Practice by the time it ends due to the aftermath of two fires, lecturer strikes and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

Around 60 students have launched a joint petition with some demanding a full refund of their fees.

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And they hit back angrily after being told by art school bosses: "Many people are having to deal with much more complex situations and circumstances.”

Students were re-located to Stow College after the second fire in June 2018, which they said left them with limited access to studio space and workshops and was not fully accessible for those who are disabled.

A strike by staff over pay and conditions in March, which students broadly supported, resulted in six weeks of re-scheduled tutorials being missed.

They have now been told that the end of year degree show will be online but with all universities and colleges closed, students say they have nowhere to work to prepare submissions.

Penny Anderson said she is half-way through the MLitt course, specialising in sculpture.

She said: “They are trying to frame this as art students whining and being impatient but it's not. It was awful before the lockdown, which made it so much worse.

“I have Multiple Sclerosis and mobility problems. The day we were told Stow College was being closed, nobody came to see if I could get out safely.

“There were many problems with the Stow building and they’ve already settled for some liability in disability discrimination. 

“There’s limited access to workshops then a strike which we mostly supported lost us another six weeks of rescheduled tutorials. Bad enough so far but then came lockdown.

“We have been told, without consultation, that are to be given an online degree show. 

“The point of the course is an exhibition, a degree show. But apart from that, how will we make work without access to workshops? 

“I mean, sculpture for some students involves welding.

“Overseas students were jauntily informed there was no need to stay in Glasgow.  

“So home to a tiny bedroom in Seoul to do... welding? After paying £17,000 in fees for overseas students?

“We will have lost 16 weeks of a one year course.

“We are also dealing with Coronavirus. I’ve lost a close friend and some students are carers. Where is the compassion there?"

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A spokeswoman for Glasgow School of Art said: “All students on one-year taught postgraduate programmes have been informed that we will be commencing Stage 3 from 26 May as planned and that further information on how that will work would be issued this week.

“What is incredibly important at this time is not to lose sight of one of the greatest assets of artists and creative people – the ability to not only show but demonstrate empathy.

“As we address our very personal situations arising from COVID19 we should not lose sight of this, recognising both globally and here in Glasgow, many, many people are having to deal with much more complex situations and circumstances.”


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