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Exclusive: Cov Uni Media Students Up In Arms

Media students at Coventry University are threatening to withhold course fees over a lack of equipment and the state of the building in which they study.The old Odeon Cinema

More than 350 students from the Culture, Communications and Media (CCM) course are expected to sign a letter calling for immediate action by the university bosses over the crisis in their department.

They say they have not got a hope of completing their courses as computers, video and photographic equipment have not yet been installed.

Staff are also warning that they could lock up the building next week and  refuse to return as they believe it is unsafe.

The CCM course was supposed to move to the Ellen Terry building in the converted Odeon cinema for the start of the academic year.

But the work was delayed then put back after the university ran into financial difficulties when losses of £1 million were discovered in the School of Engineering.

Incomplete paperwork meant the university would not be able to claim a full European grant for a project.

When the loss was revealed, Vice Chancellor Mike Goldstein promised that impending cuts would not affect students.

But media students are incensed that they have been denied facilities in their new building. Their old home has been converted for use by Fine Art and Automotive Design students.

Now all the students, from all three years on the BA, are threatening to withhold their course fees unless the equipment is installed. It is rumoured that the university losses are larger than first thought, and it cannot afford to buy the necessary items to allow the students to complete core parts of their course.

The students say the university is in breach of contract. Many of the students are from overseas and have to pay £7,000 a year for the course.

Mature student and protest organiser Stephen Brookes said:

“This is a very serious issue. We are going to send a letter signed by everybody to the Dean of the School of Art and Design demanding a meeting within 24 hours.

“The university offered radio and video training facilities, and people started this course in the basis that the promise would be upheld.

“The university is now in breach of contract. It looks as if they are not going to be able to buy any equipment until June, which is the end of the academic year.”

The National Union of Students is preparing to back the students should the university not respond to the demands.

Mr Brookes, of Maudslay Road, Chapelfields, who was awarded the MBE for his work in setting up the Gulf Support Group for soldiers affected by Gulf War syndrome, suffers from a spinal condition and relies on a crutch.

He added that the entire Ellen Terry Building has been declared unfit for use by disabled students, with the exception of the reception area, effectively barring him form lessons.



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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 5 Nov 00
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