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UCU statement on the closure of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA)

12 April 2022

The sudden closure of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Alra) is a shameful episode, for which the Department for Education bears significant responsibility. Alra's financial difficulties were the predictable consequence of the poor regulation of private providers and an ideological reliance on fees. The government's vindictive attacks on funding for creative and performing arts and its refusal to support these subjects in higher education form the background to ALRA's collapse. 

Even given this financial context, Alra's senior management have handled the situation disgracefully. While they negotiated with the Student Loan Company and the Office for Students to give students the option of relocating to a new institution, there has been no support for the 28 permanent and 16 fixed-term staff who have been made summarily redundant. Staff were given no forewarning about the closure which was announced in the early hours of Monday morning, and now face a long and hard battle to receive any compensation.  

There is no way for staff to contact management after having lost their jobs with no notice, and some of our members are unable to access their personal possessions, which are locked inside the building. However difficult the financial situation was, there can be no excuse for such blatant disregard for the wellbeing and livelihoods of staff. UCU and Equity are supporting members, offering them advice, and have encouraged other institutions to come forward with offers of alternative employment.

ALRA is not the first private higher education provider to go bankrupt and it will not be the last in a post-16 education system which has been marketised within an inch of its life. Smaller higher education institutions and specialist providers will also continue to suffer until the UK government abandons the failed fee-based funding model, stops its ideological onslaught against the arts and humanities, and provides proper, secure public funding. This cultural vandalism must be brought to an end.

Last updated: 13 April 2022