Sunday, 24 May 2009

Longstanding Commitment?

Jamie Thunder in Gair Rhydd opines: "The consultation document supporting the proposed cuts estimates that if it continues as at present, LEARN will lose up to £230,000 a year once the hourly-paid staff are treated fairly. ..£230,000 is a touch over 2.5% of £9.08million, the University’s mean annual profit (not expenditure, profit: money it has to play with). But of last year’s profit of £13.6million, it’s just 1.7%"
Cardiff University's Annual Review of 2008 states: "The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning."

Saturday, 23 May 2009


The Dean of Lifelong Learning has finally written to all students about the proposal to cut Humanities and Welsh.
His announcement is also on the LEARN website here.

If you want to complain about the proposal the student complaint procedure may be found here.
If you feel aggrieved then do make a complaint soon. This is because the complaints procedure says that. ‘The issue should be raised informally within a matter of days of the problem arising.’ Students have only just been formally informed about the problem in the last couple of days.

If you feel aggrieved about anything, then you too might wish to use the university grievance procedures available here.

And, to all our supporters:
Please keep writing to your Assembly members, and to the V-C. Your letters really make a difference.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Support from Leanne Wood A.M.

Leanne Wood A.M. has raised the equal opportunities aspect of the proposed cuts at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the Assembly yesterday, with the Leader of the House, Carwyn Jones.

She said:

"You have already been asked about proposed funding cuts at Cardiff University’s centre for Lifelong Learning, but I wish to raise a different aspect of those cuts. Over the past five years, Cardiff University has made a profit of £45.4 million. However, it claims that the lifelong learning department will lose between £200,000 and £300,000 a year after the equal pay assimilations have been made. This point was confirmed by the First Minister earlier.
In my view, this is a discriminatory proposal. Staff at the centre are largely paid by the hour, and so they are not entitled to the same terms and conditions as full-time lecturers. They are not entitled to sick pay, leave, equal pay or the university superannuation scheme pension benefits. Some 70 per cent of the hours taught in the centre are taught by women, and 30 per cent are taught by men, and, in the main, these are part-time jobs. Therefore, it is clear that these cuts will disproportionately affect part-time women workers—those same workers who have campaigned with their trade unions for equal pay are about to lose out because of this proposal. I am sure that you will agree that that is a perverse situation."

Read a full account on Leanne Wood's blog here.

A Statement from the University

After the University Council meeting on Monday 18 May, the University eventually released a statement. You can read it here.

We've yet to hear about the composition of the scrutiny group, nor who will be chairing it. But we are asking questions, and we will be making representations.

It was only last March that the university was praising the work of our Centre and out tutors in press releases like this one. How quickly things change.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

And the fight goes on

Cardiff University's Council yesterday agreed to investigate whether the proper processes have been followed on the proposals to end teaching humanities and Welsh courses at the Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning.
The council failed to reach agreement on the proposal with many members complaining that not enough information had been provided.
The meeting was highly charged as Dr Dave Wyatt and Pat Clark, representing the campaign, were allowed to address the council and field questions. Dr Wyatt illustrated the importance of Lifelong Learning in the community and requested that the centre should be given another year to find a a more satisfactory plan, preventing the need for such drastic cuts in provision and staffing levels.
One council member, who preferred to remain anonymous said "There were a lot of unhappy committee members. The main point was that they had not been given enough information to make any decision on, so no decision was reached."
Earlier in the day hundreds had turned up to support the campaign against the cuts. The atmosphere was good natured and thank you to everyone who showed up.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Jenny Willot M.P. signs our petition!

Jenny Willott MP has signed the online petition (signature 683). Here is her comment:

“LEARN is a very important resource for those returning to learning, which is incredibly important especially during an economic crisis. I myself know of several people who have benefited from classes at the university, not only academically but socially as well. It would be a huge loss to the many people studying there, and for future students.”

Media round-up

Times Higher Education
“Lifelong Learning ‘on verge of extinction’ across the UK”
14 may 2009
Click here

Western Mail: Letters to the Editor
14 May 2009
Click here

South Wales Echo
“Desperate Lecturers ask Neil Kinnock for help
!3 May 2009
Click here

Western Mail: Letters to the Editor
5 May 2009
Click here

And from other blogs and forums:

“Attacks on Evening Classes & Adult Education”
Click here

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Bettany Hughes sends her support!

We’ve now received a message of support from Bettany Hughes, the historian, writer and broadcaster; author of an acclaimed book on Helen of Troy.

Our students pursuing courses on Ancient History, Egyptology, Classical Studies and Latin all want to thank Bettany.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Ask the Vice-Chancellor!

The University Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Grant, has been sending a bland stock reply to most enquiries about the proposal to axe all Humanities and Welsh teaching. It’s time to press him for some answers.

***Does the V-C intend to consult LEARN students about the proposal? When?
***What will the V-C do to make sure that students currently enrolled on the Diploma, or working towards our certificates, aren’t abandoned? Doesn’t the University have a responsibility towards them?
***Wouldn’t the V-C be prepared to consider less drastic options to secure the future of the Centre?
***Doesn’t he believe that Humanities subjects give an excellent grounding in transferable skills useful in today’s job market?
***Does he intend to move our Welsh courses to the Welsh Department? We have courses in Welsh literature, writing, and translation that complement the Welsh Department’s provision and allow Welsh speakers to use their language skills.
***Is it really fair to sack our hourly-paid part-time tutors at the very moment when they become entitled to equal pay? What does this say about the University’s commitment to Equality? And isn’t this the same V-C who awarded himself a 12% pay rise last year?
***125 years ago, this great university was founded, in part, by collections among Welsh miners and the people of south Wales. Now is the time to return that support.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

More media news

Another article in Gair Rhydd, the Cardiff University Student newspaper:
"The end of LEARN as we Know it?"
Read it here.

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Open Meeting
Thursday 14 May, 7pm, at the Learn Building (room tba).
Aim: to finalise arrangements for the demonstration on 18 May; to update supporters about progress so far; to discuss further campaign ideas.

18 May, 4pm, University Main Building, Park Place.
The University Council meets at 5pm on 18 May. They will be making decisions about our future. Let’s help them to realise that we are a vibrant Centre and that people in South Wales care about educational opportunities.
Please come. Bring your friends and family.

Our last open meeting (on Tuesday 5 May) was very productive.
Ms Jenny Randerson A.M. spoke and pledged her support to the campaign. Our students and colleagues were heartened by her words. Several students spoke to say how studying at the Centre had changed their lives. Mr Nick Yates, the Student Union Education and Welfare officer, publicly supported our campaign. A number of academic staff from other departments came and showed their support. Afterwards, a lot of productive networking happened. Thank you to everyone.

More BBC Coverage

BBC Wales Good Morning Wales!

On Friday 8 May, BBC Radio Wales broadcast an interview with Jenny Randerson A.M. in its Good Morning Wales! programme.

Cardiff University is consulting on proposals to cut a significant part of the adult education programme it provides. The plans would affect around 250 courses and threaten 100 jobs.
However, staff have been angered by a memo from the University’s Director of Strategic Development asking for suggestions on how to use up more than £0.5m pounds’ of savings.
Jenny Randerson, Assembly Member for Cardiff Central and Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Spokeswoman, told Good Morning Wales, “I find this memo quite extraordinary because it’s actually saying we’ve got £530,000 of under spend this year and probably £650,000 to £700,000 for next year to spend specifically on additional support for part time students. This is money allocated by the Government as part of an initiative to widen access to education … and it is ironic … that they are searching round for possible projects to spend this money on at the same time as proposing all these cuts.
“At the very least I would expect them to be in discussion with the department concerned about … ways in which they could use that money in order to alleviate some of the problems.”
She said, “I don’t think it would mean that there was no need for any cuts and indeed the staff who work in that department accept that there will have to be changes, but it would at least be … a basis for the start of some kind of plan for the future.
“I accept that it couldn’t be used directly (for) staff salaries but one of the suggestions they put forward in their memo is that you could use it to consolidate and build on existing provision at a time when they’re talking about cutting existing provision entirely. The net effect … will be that far from building on and improving access to part time education ... they will in fact be narrowing it considerably.”

Friday, 8 May 2009

Lobby Student Union

Cardiff University Students can help the campaign by lobbying Student Union Sabbatical Officer Nick Yates who is one of two student representatives that sit on the Cardiff University Council.
Nick can be emailed at
Cardiff University Council meets on May 18th to discuss the plans for closing down half the centre. Make sure your voice is heard at the meeting by lobbying your representative.

Campaign taken to First Minister

First Minister Rhodri Morgan was presented with campaign flyers by two students from the centre as he arrived at Cardiff University to give a speech about Wales in Europe.
The low-key gathering of protesters was greeted by a heavy-handed approach from University authorities as a large group of security guards prevented them from entering the building or even from standing on the steps to hand out leaflets and gather signatures for the petition.

Message of Support from Dame Joan Bakewell

Distinguished broadcaster and journalist Dame Joan Bakewell has added her support to the campaign to save Humanities at LEARN. In an email sent to one of our campaigners she stated:
"I am happy to support your campaign. It is happening in other places, too. The reason the universities want the courses to be vocational is that that is how they can get government money. But life-long learning can transform peoples' retirement. I am all for it!"

Sunday, 3 May 2009

No Faith in Humanities

Gair Rhydd, the Cardiff University student newspaper has a lead story on the threat to axe Humanities and Welsh (issue 895, 4 May 2009) by Jamie Thunder.

Nick Yates, Cardiff Students’ Union Education and Welfare Officer, said: “The
Lifelong Learning Centre brings together the local community, University staff,
and students, in an environment where knowledge is king. As a member of Cardiff
University I am proud to be part of an institution that is committed to
community learning by its founding charter.
“This commitment embodies everything that education should be about: fulfilment that benefits both individual learners and the communities in which they live. In this tough economic climate we must act to survive in the present, but we must do all that we can to ensure action today doesn’t threaten our values or our future.”

Read the full story here.
The same issue has an opinion piece in which Robin Morgan argues:

The student body should feel aggrieved and frankly disgusted with
the way in which the entire proposal was carried out – despite it not
personally affecting the majority of them.

Read his article here.

Cardiff students have two representatives on the University Council which decides on 18 May whether to accept or reject the proposal to axe our subjects. They are the Student Union President and Vice-President, Andy Button-Stephens and James Wood. (email and We ask for their support.

Meaningful Consultation?

A document showing the "business case for the proposed reductions in activities within LEARN" was circulated to all members of LEARN staff on Friday afternoon.

This was a full 11 days after they received the bombshell that Humanities and Welsh teaching were to be axed from the centre.

The document was finally emailed to everyone immediately AFTER a meeting in which the centre's support staff were told of brutal job cuts that were planned.

Friday, 1 May 2009

More job cuts announced

Support and Administrative staff were called to a meeting at 2pm today.

Richard Evans, the Dean of Lifelong Learning, flanked by Human Resources apparatchiks, announced restructuring proposals for support staff.
There will be fewer posts. Support staff will be forced to compete for the remaining posts whenever there is more than one person with the relevant skills. Some posts are shrinking to part time.

Many staff left the meeting feeling extemely upset. This is not how we want to celebrate International Workers Day. It's not how we want to start our Bank Holiday weekend. But it IS the beginning of a sustained campaign to save jobs and preserve educational opportunities in south Wales.

Next meeting May 14th

The next meeting of the campaign will be held on Thursday 14th May.

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting which will be held at 7pm (room to be confirmed) in the Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning