August 9, 2019

Glasgow School of Art Students Demand Tuition Refund

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND—Students attending the Glasgow School of Art—the embattled institution which is struggling to recover from the damage caused by two major fires, both of which devastated its iconic Mackintosh building—are demanding compensation over the dilapidated state of classrooms and studios and their program’s lack of resources, the Sunday Post reports.

Twenty-nine students signed an eleven-page letter, which was sent to the school’s management detailing their frustrations. In the document are complaints of broken radiators, leaks, and unclean toilets. It also described a lack of program advisers, closed studios, over-worked staff members, and a general “unwillingness” to help students prepare for the school’s annual degree show, which features work from graduating students across the School of Design, the School of Fine Art, the Innovation School, and the Mackintosh School of Architecture.

The signees claimed that they were not informed of the changes the school made to its programs in the aftermath of the last fire, which broke out on June 15, 2018 as a massive $43 million reconstruction project was near completion. Those who would have taken courses in the Mack, which is what the Mackintosh building is affectionately called, have been displaced and are working out of various other buildings across the city. As a result, some reported feeling isolated from their classmates.

Following meetings with Alistair Payne, the head of the school of fine art, the students were offered tutoring and additional financial support for their degree shows; however, the students say they want to receive partial tuition refunds. They also claimed that the sum to be returned should be apportioned based on how much students paid—those who paid more, such as international students who may have tuition fees as high as $24,000 per year, should receive more compensation.

A spokesperson for the institution told the Post that it could not comment on the student’s letter since it is currently going through a formal complaints procedure. The school has also been under scrutiny for failing to safeguard the Mack, which was designed by local architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, after the first fire ripped through the building in 2014.

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