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Cutbacks stoke Strathclyde architecture tuition fears

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February 22 2012

Cutbacks stoke Strathclyde architecture tuition fears
Strathclyde University’s architecture department has informed staff and students that it is looking at how best to maintain its teaching standards in light of the reduced financial support afforded to it -sparking fears amongst students and staff that tutors may have to work voluntarily, or be replaced by students.

Seeking to allay those fears department head Dr Sergio Porta told Urban Realm: “There is a strategy to lower the impact of the external teaching budget - which means tutors basically.

“It doesn’t mean that tutors should be cut, it means that if we are to support them we have to do so from other budgets or by allocating resources in a different manner.

“Changes are happening every day. We had to face pretty profound changes at the start of the last session and we’re going to face changes at the start of the 2012-13 academic year. It’s a continuous process of change and adaptation, part of which will hopefully be for the best.

“There are a number of decisions which must be taken as a result of the reduction in funding in the higher education sector, including a number of different models of teaching.

“That’s why on the fifth of March we will start a process for the fundamental reappraisal of the way we teach both as a result of the financial crisis but also the professional crisis of who we are as architects.”

Subsequent to this Strathclyde University issued the following statement to stress the campus wide investment they are currently undertaking: "The University remains committed to architecture and we are continuing to invest in its future.

"Our campus development plan will create innovative and vibrant facilities to enhance our students’ experience, and we are creating opportunities for collaboration between the department and academics in other disciplines to develop innovative new research to benefit architecture practice and wider society.”

58 Comments

PM
#1 Posted by PM on 23 Feb 2012 at 09:14 AM
the beginning of the end...
cmk
#2 Posted by cmk on 23 Feb 2012 at 09:50 AM
Most probably. Daft that there are two schools in Glasgow anyway. It is not sustainable.
cm why k
#3 Posted by cm why k on 23 Feb 2012 at 10:05 AM
Not at all daft - it's fantastic. The differences between the ethos and teaching at the Mac and Strathclyde offer a great choice to prospective students and it is a shame that the two schools generally don't interact to any great extent.

The only reason that the dept at Strathclyde is under threat is due to the University's ruthless policy towards cutting everything but research-rich science/engineering based subjects.

Sadly the dept, in my view, is doomed. A forced move to the James Wier building this summer is the precursor to the end and is one of the underhand tactics being employed by the University to reduce the school's status (as well as alledged costs etc) in attempt to wind it down.

There have already been resignations from the dept in protest to both the move and the current management of the department.

Essentially it boils down to the fact that if Strathclyde wanted the Department, it would not be in jeopardy.

I, for one, welcome a merger between the two schools but only because I see no other option.
cr86eng
#4 Posted by cr86eng on 23 Feb 2012 at 12:12 PM
"The only reason that the dept at Strathclyde is under threat is due to the University's ruthless policy towards cutting everything but research-rich science/engineering based subjects."

This sums up the issue for me.

This news surely serves as proof (as if any were needed) that if the department is to survive, it needs to pull its own weight in terms of research and bringing in external funding. The money is out there, but the department's long-standing and misguided aversion to working for it is ultimately coming back to haunt it.

Rather than moan about not feeling wanted, now is the time for the department to wake up and start justifying its existence in the University, and its relevance in the architectural community.
Anon
#5 Posted by Anon on 23 Feb 2012 at 12:18 PM
I am a current student at the Dept of Arch in Strath. I think it's disgraceful the staff and students have to find out this information from this source and not from Sergio himself. What kind of leadership and professionalism is this?
Anon
#6 Posted by Anon on 23 Feb 2012 at 12:20 PM
This LEARn process is a joke. None of the staff who teach in the dept are part of this workshop and Sergio obvisouly has no idea how to teach an Architectural Studies course when his only interest lies in the Urban Design dept. I am yet to see Sergio teach or even speak to an AAD (architecure) student.
Starchitect
#7 Posted by Starchitect on 23 Feb 2012 at 12:48 PM
There is a strategy to lower the impact of the external teaching budget - pay tutors with carrots and potatoes which the students would grow
Anon2
#8 Posted by Anon2 on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:05 PM
Except Sergio is a tutor of one of the AAD units??
cm why k
#9 Posted by cm why k on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:14 PM
Urban Design is only nominally an 'AAD' unit - it is still urban design, not architecture.
CM Why K
#10 Posted by CM Why K on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:18 PM
^ Just to clarify, Im not intending to start an argument on the definition of architecture and urban design here, but the work produced by the Urban Design unit is clearly in a different vein to the other units under the AAD course.
Anon3
#11 Posted by Anon3 on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:33 PM
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/go-ahead-for-89m-university-research-centre.16817715
Anon2
#12 Posted by Anon2 on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:35 PM
It is run as part of the AAD course though, I'm just correcting the earlier poster who claimed "I am yet to see Sergio teach or even speak to an AAD (architecure) student.". Categorically untrue.
noah murney
#13 Posted by noah murney on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:36 PM
Is this photograph an accurate depiction of the new accommodation?
A-non
#14 Posted by A-non on 23 Feb 2012 at 13:50 PM
Re the photograph- why are they in a weird egg thing? What is LEAR(n)?
Concerned
#15 Posted by Concerned on 23 Feb 2012 at 14:13 PM
Porta has never had a problem expecting people to work for free. Many 'paid tutors' have already been replaced by PHD students - many of whom have no actual design experience and an interest more in academia. He has no interest in well being of the pupils only in his research. The best thing about Strathclyde was always its links to the real world - this is being dissolved bit by bit.
cmk
#16 Posted by cmk on 23 Feb 2012 at 14:47 PM
I think it's time for the two schools to join. Particularly if Strathclyde is only interested in research money. Perhaps the two coming under the umbrella of the Mack would offer the students a better learbing environment and the profession better , more well rounded young architects.
Ruairidh Moir
#17 Posted by Ruairidh Moir on 23 Feb 2012 at 15:13 PM
cmk - why would you advocate that Strathclyde School of Architecture should come under the umbrella of the Mac?

The Strathclyde School is not only interested in research money - come to our end of year show and you'll see the innovation on the walls.

The approach of this school is different - in as much as it has (and is praised by external RIBA examiners) a broad list of brilliant practitioners who tutor the students.

This is reflected in the awards this school has been winning... take for instance the RIBA silver medal that other schools have never won in Scotland

Put simply - there is strong reason for the Strathclyde School to exist, not only for the quality of its architectural endeavours, but also for its real life training and strong links to practice. If this is lost, its a sad time for the profession.
Ruairidh Moir
#18 Posted by Ruairidh Moir on 23 Feb 2012 at 15:20 PM
Quick further point:

"well rounded young architects" - given the fact that our projects are rooted in real life situations, and must be proven to be able to exist and serve humanity and society... this is probably best exemplified by the Strathclyde School producing a high quota of proactive students that have not simply waited for the world to come to them.

Think of the new innovative practices that have been formed in the year 5 at Strathclyde over the years. Also think of the monumental campaign across Scotland (and across the 6 schools) against the Scottish Funding Councils SFC's proposed cuts to funding for architecture courses.

That campaign was orchestrated by students in the Strathclyde School, and run by those students... The SFC were even invited to come see the studio environments and make the case directly to the body.

This was done for the benefit of the profession at large, and for all students of architecture in Scotland.

So - well rounded young architects? cmk you dont think Strathclyde currently produces these?

There is much to loose by wishing to see the school dissapear!
cmk
#19 Posted by cmk on 23 Feb 2012 at 17:37 PM
The comments expressed on 4 are deep rooted, all involved in the school, including myself, knows that. It is not well respected by the other faculties, nor those who run the university. In fact I would go so far as to say if the board could get rid of it they would. The Mack also has many talented practitioners teaching, a dynamic new head and it's international profile and that of the Glasgow School of Art is much greater. So I would agrue that when the two schools come together and they will, the Mack should lead.
FMcG
#20 Posted by FMcG on 23 Feb 2012 at 19:45 PM
The Mac is a fine school but to consider it superior to Strathclyde is ignorant. Both schools are fantastic, one is just unlucky enough to be at the mercy of a University that couldn't care less about it. That doesn't make it any less of a good school in terms of teaching etc.
Ruairidh Moir
#21 Posted by Ruairidh Moir on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:12 PM
Cmk - my issue with your post was more that it seemed to be suggesting that Strathclyde is not producing "well rounded young architects".

Couldnt be further from the truth - as I have explained with a few examples.

cmk - if you are "involved in the school" do you mind declaring who you are?

both schools should co-exist - the mac may have a good international standing - but how much of that is due to output and how much of that is due to Charles Rennie?

FMcg is spot on by highlighting ignorance. The Strathclyde School has its studios run directly by practitoners - and taught by practioners with the expertise of first class full time staff... Other institutions have a far higher ratio of staff that are not linked to industry. I believe that some, including the Strathclyde School's other Glasgow counterpart are included in that bracket.
cmk
#22 Posted by cmk on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:13 PM
My comments have nothing to do with the quality of students. We have many fine young architecture students as do the Mack. Please read my post before you respond in such a manner, to do otherwise is both ingnorant and stupid. The Mack should lead because it's international profile is superior because of Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art. I doubt that outside of Scotland or beyond architects in the UK anyone has heard of Strathclyde School of Architecture. It has an internationally recognised Business School. You have already admitted the University Board do not care less, all the more reason. Join together under the Mackintosh name
Interested bystander
#23 Posted by Interested bystander on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:22 PM
That is true, the Mackintosh School is better known worldwide because of CRM to ditch that advantage would be madness. I agree, it makes sense.
Ruairidh Moir
#24 Posted by Ruairidh Moir on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:27 PM
please highlight where I have "admitted" the university board do not care less? And call me 'ignorant and stupid' if you like... but you can also call me by my name because I am not hiding behind letters, unlike some.
cmk
#25 Posted by cmk on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:29 PM
You are a tad touchy though Mr Moir, I was refering to post 20 and you got in between. You need to go lie down.
Interested bystander
#26 Posted by Interested bystander on 23 Feb 2012 at 20:32 PM
there are too many architects and architecture students anyway, the level is not sustainable. Few will find jobs, if any.
T Glen
#27 Posted by T Glen on 23 Feb 2012 at 21:28 PM
@ CMK ... What gives you a more informed opinion of the situation strathclydes architecture department has found itself in?! Albeit a prestigious international accreditation proceeds the Macintosh School but that does not for second insinuate that the students work is any better than the standard we at strathclydes produce. Slightly ignorant and somewhat biased.
Chortle
#28 Posted by Chortle on 23 Feb 2012 at 21:54 PM
@CMK
'The Mack also has many talented practitioners teaching, a dynamic new head' i.e. chris platt? dynamic and new? haha
hwd
#29 Posted by hwd on 23 Feb 2012 at 23:22 PM
from what i have seen and heard he left a lower position at strathclyde to go to the mac, one where many complaints were made about him and his teaching style, which resulted in the school getting a bad rating in recent years, so in many eyes he was no great loss to strathclyde. The idea of the mac being better than strathclyde is mainly taken from its heritage, ie charles rennie , and people suck as isa metzstein who have taught there, although surely the decision should be made on the awards won by the students where i think you will find that strathclyde does come out in front.
hwd
#30 Posted by hwd on 23 Feb 2012 at 23:56 PM
also cmk you say 'I doubt that outside of Scotland or beyond architects in the UK anyone has heard of Strathclyde School of Architecture' which shows your lack of knowledge regarding strathclyde, as if your statement was true then strathclyde would not have the very successfull exchange program that it has ran for many years, and also students from around the world would not be coming to study architecture at strathclyde
SF
#31 Posted by SF on 23 Feb 2012 at 23:57 PM
@cmk

' I doubt that outside of Scotland or beyond architects in the UK anyone has heard of Strathclyde School of Architecture.'

If this is the case then why is it that we attract such a large number of foreign students and have a very successful and broad exchange programme with universities around the world.

If you are involved in the school as you say you are you would know this.
Frank Loud Riot
#32 Posted by Frank Loud Riot on 24 Feb 2012 at 00:36 AM
What a load of beau lux. This is so not about mac versus strath, or about individual teachers, or any of the petty nonsense above.

This is about architects and the profession's place in the construction industry (which for the benefit of people who don't rely on it to pay their bills) is facing extinction right now) and it's place in this country's culture.

The boring debate about which of two schools in one city is "better" is SO parochial and SO old-firm and SO Glasgow and SO frickin marketin' bitchin'... and so OLD (at least thirty years and probably older) that it is NOT worth wasting time on.

The focus here should be on Scottish architecture schools' ability to produce graduates who can contribute to Scotland's, the UK's, and the world's culture, economy, and the wellbeing of it's citizens.

Either they do or they do not. It's not about who can draw the best twirly bits.

A final note to consider - where else in the world would it make sense for an education establishment, of any discipline, to rely on the name of the architect who (led the team who) designed it's BUILDING to form the basis for it's entire reputation ?

And an architecture school as a subdivision of an engineering faculty is just as absurd.
Thurman Merman
#33 Posted by Thurman Merman on 24 Feb 2012 at 01:16 AM
Well there's a lot of chat, but which university has produced the best architects over, lets say, the last ten years?

Mouzhan Majidi or Gareth Hoskins?

You might want to Google that first chap.

My point is diversity is good.
a missed opportunity
#34 Posted by a missed opportunity on 24 Feb 2012 at 09:15 AM
Perhaps time to stop fighting amongst ourselves and put up a unified front to protect the profession?:

http://www.soapboxco-op.org/001.html
Glass Houses
#35 Posted by Glass Houses on 24 Feb 2012 at 09:17 AM
Low blow. Chortle, Gordon Murray?????
dirige
#36 Posted by dirige on 24 Feb 2012 at 09:57 AM
Frank Loud Riot: I couldn't agree more. I studied at the Mac and have worked in practice with dozens of Strathy graduates and can say that the difference between alumni from either school merely comes down to the individual. I thought Mac vs Strath bickering was something that died off 10 years ago and it's f*cking pathetic to hear people on this moaning about it today instead of debating the most important issue raised in the article of "the professional crisis of who we are as architects".
inner-circle
#37 Posted by inner-circle on 24 Feb 2012 at 10:26 AM
'they' either let you in or your our out regardless of ability / talent. Its a clan.
Alan Dunlop
#38 Posted by Alan Dunlop on 24 Feb 2012 at 10:29 AM
Both the Mac and Strathclyde have produced exceptional students over the years. I'm lucky enough to have employed some of them. In fact the standard of all the Schools of Architecture in Scotland, Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen is very high.Talented, bright young people with few opportunities when they leave the school, at the moment.

The real issue is how valued these students are and how important architecture is as a profession. At the moment, not very much. As Hertzberger commented at the recent Gold Medal lecture, tere is an anti intellectualism evident among the public at large and those commissioning work, which as a consequence of the global financial crisis is bordering on philistism.
Zimmerman
#39 Posted by Zimmerman on 24 Feb 2012 at 13:24 PM
“It doesn’t mean that tutors should be cut, it means that if we are to support them we have to do so from other budgets or by allocating resources in a different manner.

There seems to be some Troll activity.

Walt Disney
#40 Posted by Walt Disney on 24 Feb 2012 at 16:08 PM
Very entertaining to see that the childish debate as to who is better still rages on 20 years after I left Strathclyde. As an employer I've got to say that I'd probably be more inclined to employ a graduate of Napier's Arch Tech course but then again all I want is well designed buildings that work for the customer.

Again, in my humble opinion, it would be great if Strathclyde stuck to the script on teaching architects rather than producing graduates who know more about 1920's Soviet politics than they do about public space design. (Dr Charley!). Surely if they are going to trim the budget, they should start with some of the self indulgent cr@p that goes on and leave the external unit tutors alone?
Bings Sings
#41 Posted by Bings Sings on 24 Feb 2012 at 17:41 PM
Perhaps we could see your work and judge for ourselves?
Stalin
#42 Posted by Stalin on 24 Feb 2012 at 19:15 PM
1920'S Soviet Politics! Surely not? Dr Charley, was born in Gori, Georgia on 21st December, 1879 which makes him an expert in early Soviet history. He is very passionate about Architecture, history and culture. He is also stuck in the past, self-promoting and loud.
concerned
#43 Posted by concerned on 24 Feb 2012 at 20:05 PM
#5 &#6 by Anon are spot on. #17 & #18 are comments clearly coming from the undergrad direction and perfectly valid for that but that isnt where the real pressure on the department is. The department IS indeed interested in more than money, but the university is ONLY interested in money. That's why we are charged £500k a year rent on the building and rising. It is also why they want to shoehorn us in elsewhere. And why it has become unacceptable to undertake any research that doesnt bring in money, even if the research itself is of a global standard and doesnt actually require funding to do it.
I dont know where it is all going.
GordonMurray
#44 Posted by GordonMurray on 27 Feb 2012 at 11:39 AM
... This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the forum terms & conditions. http://www.urbanrealm.com/terms ...
Laura
#45 Posted by Laura on 27 Feb 2012 at 20:57 PM
I am a current student and I do think that it is disgraceful is that I get to learn about the 'situaton' the Department is currently in from an internet site! Shame on you Sergio Porta! Shame on you David Grierson!
W. Wombat
#46 Posted by W. Wombat on 28 Feb 2012 at 15:44 PM
Craig Whyte should buy the place for a quid, couldn't do any worse than the current sorry excuse for management. Show us the research money, is there any? Nope. The university wants well rid of the department, fine, but they should at least be honest about it. The charade by Sergio the paint the whole affair as an investment is frankly ridiculous, dishonest at best. The students are having their baws well and truly felt.
5th year student
#47 Posted by 5th year student on 28 Feb 2012 at 16:03 PM
so where does all the money go? there are a significant number of international students paying a lot of money to study at Strathclyde and if I were them I would be asking whether they feel they are getting value for money? Everyone is feeling the pinch right now with budgets being cut left right and centre; the issue here seems to be a complete lack of understanding of what the department does and the quality of students it produces and to me as a final year student we apparently do not matter at all. There has been no discussion; no consultation and it feels like we are just completely irrelevant. Surely the students (as well as the staff) MAKE the school?
the profession
#48 Posted by the profession on 28 Feb 2012 at 16:32 PM
what about the staff who are very high up in the department, on big salaries whom may not be that productive but rely on the income.
Stalin
#49 Posted by Stalin on 28 Feb 2012 at 16:45 PM
As a commited communist, money is not an issue for myself, the quality of the teaching within the school are world class, the history, culture and dedication are second to none, even in South America. David and Sergio are the best people to lead us through what is the most challenging times of the schools history.
So let's get behind these guys and move on.
Laura
#50 Posted by Laura on 28 Feb 2012 at 21:42 PM
Stalin, count me out from 'getting behind these guys and moving on', waste of space.
the profession
#51 Posted by the profession on 29 Feb 2012 at 10:36 AM
Is there any other senior staff that need to be more productive & actually be there not for the money or just the 'poitical position', but beacuse they are committed to architecure & developing talented students chances.
Zimmerman
#52 Posted by Zimmerman on 29 Feb 2012 at 17:53 PM
Architects and Arcitectural students are some of the most creative and intelligent people I have had the pleasure in meeting. Use your positive and creative ways for the better. Build using your strengths. I agree politics is negative.
Frank Loud Riot
#53 Posted by Frank Loud Riot on 29 Feb 2012 at 22:33 PM
I have a wee question for the heid bummers of the university of strathclyde - those diseminators of ill thought out PR blurbs issued to the national media about their new multi-million pound investment on High Street whch don't bother to mention the skilled and hard working architects, engineers, surveyors and other graduate professionals who actually designed it (some of them more than likely strathclyde graduates).

IS this photograph an accurate depiction of the new accommodation?

And does it have wifi?

While you're all pondering this, please ask yourself - is demeaning and demoralising an entire faculty, and arguably an entire profession which this university has been very delighted to profit from for at least 43 years (don't try the maths, it will just upset you) really the best message to be broadcasting, especially to all the other faculties, to the profession, and to potential fee-paying applicants?
ooi
#54 Posted by ooi on 17 Mar 2012 at 21:31 PM
really sad to hear all this.......david.not fit to lead....he has more passion to himself than architecture.....
one thing i can assure you that strathclyde is widely known internationally .all the oversea graduate perform extremely well in their own country......not the other school.....this i can assure you........
political inclination of full time tutor should be remove......inclusive the unproductive research group ....
ooi
#55 Posted by ooi on 17 Mar 2012 at 21:31 PM
really sad to hear all this.......david.not fit to lead....he has more passion to himself than architecture.....
one thing i can assure you that strathclyde is widely known internationally .all the oversea graduate perform extremely well in their own country......not the other school.....this i can assure you........
political inclination of full time tutor should be remove......inclusive the unproductive research group ....
dirige
#56 Posted by dirige on 17 Mar 2012 at 22:32 PM
"not the other school.....this i can assure you........"
..and you obviously being such an authority.......mo...ng..
David says!
#57 Posted by David says! on 25 Apr 2012 at 13:15 PM
Get it right up you!
Will
#58 Posted by Will on 19 Aug 2012 at 12:44 PM
Having just stumbled across this feed I must say it makes very sad reading. I have studied, tutored and employed from Strathclyde. Since my 1st year at the department until now I have seen many changes, some good and some bad, some political and some unexplainable, but the one thing I do believe is that not one person who has taken an employed position within the department has done it without a passion for Architecture in some way. The personal attacks on individuals are uncalled for; they are simply part of a bigger, political machine called Strathclyde University. Transparency from the highest level is required to get the department and students on a level understanding and in a position to move forward. I do hope this year turns around for the department, there are still good people involved.

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