Concerns from academics over UCL’s new Stratford campus
UCL’s Academic Board met to discuss grievances with the university’s proposed East London campus, UCL East.
The meeting focused on concerns about the financial transparency of the proposed move, as well as the effect of splitting the university between two areas of London.
UCl East, a proposed new campus in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will be the largest single expansion in the university’s history, the land area consisting of approximately 40% as much as the current Bloomsbury campus. Phase 1 of the move will see 4,000 students and 260 academic staff moving over to the Stratford campus.
Michael Arthur, the UCL Provost, described the move as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
It was requested by a group fifteen senior academics, who asked the UCL Provost Michael Arthur to present the “specific vision for UCL East, its purpose, its feasibility, and its impact on UCL’s core activities”.
Particular emphasis was placed on how exactly the £487 million move will be financed as well as how UCL’s academic activities will be affected by the 7 mile separation between the two campuses.
UCL East will include student accommodation provided through a partnership with a private financiers. It will be managed by a ‘Design, build, finance and operate’ (DBFO) arrangement, where the private financier pays for, builds and manages the building in return for rent. Rent for the new accommodation is expected to be £190 per week but campaigners fear it will end up being much higher.
At Unite Halls in St Pancras, where UCL accommodation is offered by a private firm, the rent for a single room with en-suite bathroom is £285 per week. The National Union of Students calculate the average London rent for students at £122 per week.
Angus O’Brien, Student Course Representative and campaigner on student accommodation issues, said “where UCL’s Senior Management Team are unclear about most of the details for UCL East, their vision for student accommodation is not. In simple terms, they do not care about the welfare of the students in their halls”.
The Academic Board consists of over 500 members of academic staff as well as student representatives.
Despite concerns being raised by multiple members about how the meeting was conducted, a vote was called and the Academic Board overwhelmingly supported the financial management, academic principles and geographic location of UCL East.