Canterbury School of Architecture has been left in disarray this week following news that the head of school, Don Gray, has left. Students have had crisis meetings after it emerged that Gray was joining the neighbouring University of Kent to set up a new school.
They are particularly anxious that the course leaders for Parts I and II, Sally Schafer and Gerry Adler - who are both also set to join the new school - might be banned from seeing out their existing contracts to the end of this academic year.
The departures have come amid a series of claims and counterclaims over the level of support the Canterbury school has received from its current governing body, the Kent Institute of Art and Design (KIAD). Sources have also suggested that the institute is considering closing the school in the summer.
There are accusations that Gray was banned from seeing out his notice period, a move which would have allowed him to oversee the school until the final summer crits and exams.
'This whole situation represents a very big problem, ' former Canterbury student and Archaos co-chair Mark Physass told the AJ. 'We are really worried about it. If Schafer and Adler are sacked before the end of the summer term, then it poses a real problem and might ruin the chances of the students.' Physass also insisted that there have been long-term issues with support for the school. 'There have been issues with staffing for a while. For example, there has not been a technology lecturer for some time, ' he said.
'I am of the opinion that Don Gray is a very nice guy and has not had much to do with this situation, ' Physass added. 'He has been working hard to turn this situation around.' As yet nobody has established whether Kent University's new architecture school will be able to take any students left without a place to study if KIAD takes the decision to close Canterbury altogether.
Adler confirmed that there were questions over the school's future. 'This is a very difficult situation for us, ' he said. 'I am under the impression that we may not be the only members of staff who will join Kent university.
'But, as it stands, we are part of KIAD and it wants to maintain its provision of architectural education, ' Adler added.