Fury over London Met University closing its ‘City Fringe’ campuses

PUBLISHED: 09:56 21 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:56 21 October 2015

London Metropolitan's main university campus in Holloway set to expand

London Metropolitan's main university campus in Holloway set to expand

Matt Parslow

Moves to close down two ‘City Fringe’ campuses by the London Metropolitan University has caused a storm of protest.

The troubled university is expanding its main north London campus in Holloway in a £125 million programme, first revealed in the Islington Gazette last week, which involves closing down its centres at Moorgate and Whitechapel.

Mayor John Biggs [inset] furious at London Met Uni's Cass centre in Whitechapel closingMayor John Biggs [inset] furious at London Met Uni's Cass centre in Whitechapel closing

But the move starting in 2017 brought condemnation on Monday by the London Assembly’s budget chairman John Biggs, who represents the City and East London and is also Tower Hamlets’ elected mayor.

He accused the London Met of “mismanagement” and is calling for top level talks with university bosses to try and prevent the relocation of its Sir John Cass arts faculty to Holloway.

“To put this valuable heritage at risk in order to address the university’s financial mismanagement is a tragedy,” he said. “I will be seeking urgent talks with the university authorities to see what can be done about a decision that threatens this proud institutional history.”

Students at Moorgate and Whitechapel, where visual arts, architecture, business and law courses are taught, spoke out this week over threats to some courses they fear might be discontinued.

Sir John Cass Faculty’s student union officer Amanda Marillier said: “These cuts will undermine London Met’s role in promoting access to education for working-class and disadvantaged sections of society.”

But university vice chancellor Prof John Raftery this week defended the relocation. London Met believed the expansion at Holloway “will benefit our students and our staff who will have more opportunities to collaborate”, he insisted.

The university has been hit by financial crises since 2009 with ‘repayment’ demands by Whitehall of £36 million following allegations of over-estimating its student roll numbers when negotiating government funding.

It responded by axing 550 posts, which led to walk-outs by lecturers bringing the Holloway Road and the other campuses to a standstill with a call for a public inquiry into the way the university handled its finances.

London Met was hit further in 2012 when the Home Office withdrew its ‘immigrant student’ status for a year over recruiting fee-paying students outside the EU at the expense of UK applicants.

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