SENIOR students at Scotland's most prestigious art school will today launch a bid to take it to court for "failing to deliver the education they promised", The National can reveal.

Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is known for its association with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Pam Hogg, Benno Schotz, David Shrigley and more.

Now it's to be the subject of a court challenge by Masters students who claim the school has left them "feeling cheated, with our future careers compromised".

Earlier this year the students went to higher education ombudsman the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) with complaints about the way the institution handled disruption caused by the second fire at the "Mack" building in 2018 and last year's lockdown.

Promising artists – paying almost £8000-a-year and up – complained about lack of studio access, poor communication and feedback, and limited technical support. That followed a campaign over these issues and changes to the high profile degree show in 2020, an event that normally attracts influential art world figures and can launch careers.

The campaign sought a partial repayment of course fees or a pause on course progression until students could get the studio time and exposure sought.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Glasgow Art School accused of ignoring students

In April, the QAA criticised GSA's "arrangements for managing academic standards and the student learning experience", told managers to provide resources to support students, and set out limitations to workshop time before learners arrive.

It also recommended the creation of new ways to assess students and "greater consistency" across operations.

At the time, GSA director Penny Macbeth said leaders were committed to providing "the best creative education and high-level art school experience".

Now Masters students will use the QAA's findings to back up their "pause or repay" calls. A crowdfunder is to be launched on the crowdjustice website tomorrow and artworks will be auctioned to pay for legal support.

In a statement, the students said they had "no contact from our tutors for 10 weeks whilst other universities like the University of Glasgow were tutoring students online within a few weeks", had "no way of making work" in their bedrooms, and "missed out on the chance to meet curators, galleries, and art-dealers – a pivotal moment for progression into the art world and another key reason for studying at GSA".

READ MORE: Mackintosh artists paint Glasgow School of Art fire as angry protest

Written by painter Harriet Orrey-Godden and others, the statement continues: "Glasgow School of Art have failed to deliver the education they promised and kept thousands of pounds in student fees.

"We left feeling cheated, with our future careers compromised. With the backing of the ombudsmen’s report, we will legally challenge GSA over their actions.

"We will fight for fair solutions to compensate for our disrupted education – a partial refund or pause option."

Sculptor Penny Anderson told The National: "The 19-20 Masters cohort, who didn't all graduate but still have the debt, have reached the end of any viable complaints process.

"So we're taking legal action and crowdfunding and holding an online auction of our work – as you might have seen, there is some amazing talent in our group.

"My suspicion is that GSA will settle, as this means their insurers will pay out."

GSA was contacted for comment.

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