Maths building demolition may leave a generation of students in temporary teaching spaces

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learningandteaching

Nathan Stilwell
News Editor

The Mathematics and Statistics Building will be demolished in December to allow for the construction of the planned Learning and Teaching Hub. Plans are underway to relocate students to a temporary teaching space that will replace the eight lecture theatres currently located in the Maths building. Staff and students have raised concerns over the feasibility of the December deadline and if the temporary teaching space will be adequate.

The Learning and Teaching Hub will be built on the site of the Maths Building and the carpark adjacent to the Boyd Orr Building. Construction is likely to take as long as five years, meaning undergraduates starting in 2016 could spend their entire degree in temporary teaching spaces.

Professor Ulrich Kraehmer, told The Glasgow Guardian: “The new building is of course both an exciting opportunity and a serious challenge. If planned well, it will offer even more room for interaction between academics and students than we have now, state of the art lecturing, tutorial and seminar facilities, and office space for doing research in house and supervising project and postgraduate students, and we can fix all kinds of things that are poor in our current building, e.g. the lighting of the chalk boards”.

He continued: “The time scale given for planning such a complex structure and the costs arising from building it only temporarily are obviously a bit concerning, as is the fact that not all our lectures will be given in the new building. So we need to identify and if necessary modify sufficiently many lecture theatres on campus so that they become usable for giving mathematics lectures in them, and then this information needs to be incorporated in the timetabling and room booking procedure. If this is all done in time I do not think that moving as planned in December is impossible, but I admit this is a big if.”

The Glasgow Guardian asked Scott Dallas, the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) school representative for Maths and Statistics if he was consulted about the temporary teaching space and if felt the needs of the students were adequately listened to. Dallas replied: “In the meeting last Wednesday (9 March) we talked about the consultation around the temporary teaching spaces. Working streams have been set-up, composed of staff members, to decide on the requirements of the temp accommodation. The head of admin has asked me to be part of these working streams or find students who can participate in them.

“Before the meeting, I would say that the school was not doing enough to ensure our needs were being listened to. After the meeting, I have much more confidence but I can’t say for definite yet as our involvement in the working streams has not been confirmed”

Since speaking with Dallas, Liam Bergin, SRC School of Mathematics and Statistics representative elect, as well as other students, has been involved with Work Streams to discuss the requirement of the temporary building.

The Glasgow Guardian asked Dallas if students of the School of Mathematics and Statistics have been adequately informed about the demolition of the building and plans for relocation and if he felt that this movement could potentially affect the studies of students. Dallas said: “It seems the school itself has not been adequately informed. The head of admin told me she is hesitant to let students knows the details because there are still some details that could change (at least that’s what she told me). The staff members and lecturers I talk to keep telling me that students will not be affected but it seems unlikely that this will be the case, especially since many third and fourth year students use the maths building as their primary place of study and socialising.”

Dallas added: “What I’d like to get across is the fact that all the staff members I’ve talked to about the temporary building are reluctant to discuss exact details. It seems that what they’ve been told could change at any moment so they don’t want to pass on incorrect information.”

On Wednesday 23 March, Prof. Adrian Bowman, Head of the School of Mathematics & Statistics, sent an email to all students informing them of the demolition and relocation to temporary building. In the email Bowman said: “The project timeline has identified a move to the new building at the end of Semester 1 next session, in December 2016.  This timeline will be continually tested and nothing will be done that places too great a pressure or inconvenience on our staff and students.  Once the move has taken place, very careful attention will be paid to minimising disruption from other construction work on the site over the next five years.”

The Glasgow Guardian asked Dallas if was still concerned about the move to the temporary teaching space after the email from the head of school and involvement with the work streams. Dallas replied: “No big concerns. I’m really happy with the way the school has engaged with us”

A University of Glasgow spokesperson said: “The Convener,  Dr Dorothy Welsh (Deputy Sec of Court) and Sponsor, Prof Frank Coton Vice-Principal (Academic and Educational Innovation) who are leading the Learning and Teaching Hub project have been liaising with the Head of School for the past 6-8 months on the evolution in thinking in the Learning and Teaching site development.  Once all options on delivery and phasing had been tested, Maths and Stats staff were informed.


“A full options appraisal to find a location for the new modular complex to house Maths and Stats was undertaken.  The site, located on the periphery of the western infirmary with access and aspect to University Place was identified as it provides linkages to the campus and proximity to Boyd Orr, where Maths and Stats undertake teaching.  This site was also identified due to sufficient size available to allow Maths and Stats to fully explore their innovative approaches in a new, modern, fit for purpose space…We have an indicative timeline and are being supported through this process by a team of experts. This timeline will be continually tested and nothing will be done that places too great a pressure or inconvenience on our staff and students.”