Archive for the ‘Local Actions – Education’ Category

Latest: The “Academic Board” has recommended that the Politics and International Relations courses be closed. Steve West will be making the final decision no later than 1st March…

[Sign saying "uwe loves politics and IR"] Students and staff at the University of the West of England in Bristol have been met with unwelcome news from the Vice Chancellor’s office that management are considering a proposal to scrap the university’s entire Politics and International Relations department. Students campaigning against this absurd proposal released the following statement:

“As students of the University of the West of England Bristol, we reject the Vice-Chancellors posturing to cut politics and international relations at UWE. We recognise that these courses received 92% and 90% student satisfaction in the recent national student survey, they maintain a good level of recruitment, also 90% of politics and IR graduates go onto employment within six months of graduating.

As such we call for the Vice chancellor to withdraw this proposal and continue to support Politics and International relations at UWE. Cuts such as these would damage the services students receive at this educational institution.

We feel that these proposals would serve only to damage the academic integrity of the university and the community in general.

As students we will seek to work closely with our lecturers and support staff.”

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Sussex Against Privatisation Banner

Sussex Against Privatisation Banner (Photo courtesy of Alice Bell)

On 7th February,  following a demonstration against the privatisation of 235 jobs at their university,  Sussex students occupied the Bramber conference centre on their campus. They are demanding:

1. A complete halting of the ongoing bidding process and end to the entire privatization program, effective immediately.
2. A commission of students, staff and lecturers to be formed. With full remit to re-evaluate procedures and channels for holding management accountable as well as reviewing and extending student and workers’ say in these decisions.
3. An end to the intimidation that senior and middle management have used to deter students and workers for airing and acting on their concerns.

Please consider signing the statement of solidarity to show your support

Check out their  the website or facebook group for more info.

UPDATES:  (check @occupy_sussex twitter, or the Sussex Against Privatisation blog for latest)

There will be updates on http://uloccupation.wordpress.com shortly!

Minutes from The Linc

The event, “University Question Time”, will start at 5pm at the LPAC and is open to all staff and students, however student cards are required for entry.

Also on the panel will be Chris Charnley, president of Lincoln SU, Richard Keeble, acting head of the Lincoln School of Journalism, as well as Jack Dobson, a member of University of Lincoln Occupation. Roger Buttery, university board member and SU trustee, will be chairing the discussion.

The meeting is a result of the student occupation at the university in December, in protest against the rise in tuition fees. The group spent 219 hours in the beanbag room in the Main Admin Building and finished following a meeting with Stuart.
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A new student solidarity campaign calling for self-determination for Western Sahara – unlawfully occupied for over 35 years – will be launched today in London endorsed by students from across the country and by Jeremy Corbyn MP

A new national student campaign initiative will be launched today at a meeting in central London. Students for a Free Western Sahara will start as a UK wide network which hopes to establish groups in schools and universities across the country. It also has ambitions to link with student groups internationally.

Representatives from several British universities will meet to elect the first President and Committee. It is hoped that branch groups will be set up in universities across the country, holding regular meetings and awareness raising actions. Each branch will propose a motion for their university students union offering solidarity with the Saharawi struggle.

The launch of the network, timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the declaration of an independent Western Sahara, will also tie in with a number of other campaigns on the EU fisheries agreement, the extension of the UN peacekeeping monitoring mandate and the ‘Sun, Sea, Sand and Torture’ tourism and economic boycott campaign.
(more…)

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Indy

Dayx4 Student Protests in London – UCL Occupied

Hundreds took part in the latest Dayx4 student protests, with feeder marches from several different universities, meeting to protest outside the Universities UK Vice Chancellors meeting [report and pics]. From there, refusing to be stopped by police, they took Euston Road and marched down Oxford Street protesting against UKUncut targets. Deciding against occupying ULU, they demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Libya in Grosvenor Square, before protesting at a meeting at UCL where BP reps were speaking. After holding a meeting at UCL, they decided to stay and are now in occupation at the Old Refectory in the Wilson building. They have called a general meeting at 6pm Friday inviting all campaigning against the cuts to link up.

See:  UCLOccupation [Twitter] | LSE OccupationRoyal Holloway Occupation [2] | Previous Student Coverage

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Also Indy

University vice-chancellors held a meeting yesterday at woburn house in london. students planned a protest outside the meeting against cuts to the EMA grants, rises in tuition fees, and the coalition’s idealogical attack on education.

A planned university occupation failed after an apparent factional dispute, but the protest then transformed into a more general anti-cuts demonstration with visits to known corporate tax dodgers, some disruption around central london, and finally a solidarity visit to a Libyan protest outside the american embassy.

The new politically-aware generation connected the dots beautifully with a series of spontaneous decisions and the impromptu marches passed off peacefully with little police interference, and in fact, text-book ‘facilitation’.


Boots closed with customers inside!

 

at about 2pm yesterday afternoon, a small crowd of around 100 students with a few lecturers and other activists gathered near woburn house in tavistock square to protest the tuition fee rises and EMA cuts, while university vice-chancellors held a meeting there.

at about 2.15, numbers were swelled by about a hundred more students from the LSE who arrived with a bicycle sound system and took over the road. there were about a dozen police at the protest, and they gave up some half-hearted efforts to move people, and instead helped find motorists an alternative route.

the students then held a short impromptu march round the square, with some mild scuffles with police on the main road as a few students ran forward to try and enter the building. police then started to put up some metal barriers to close off the road in front of the building, but students interpreted this as the precursor to the kettle, and soon ran over and stopped it, as well as sitting on piles of barriers to prevent any further movement.

again, the dozen police stood down, and although there is little doubt there must have been reserves nearby, none appeared.

with no sign of vice-chancellors or any other movement in the building, the students decided to go on a walkabout, first heading up upper woburn place, where they held up traffic for a few minutes, and then on to the busy euston road junction in front of the station, where they sat down for about ten minutes, bringing the traffic to a standstill at around 3pm.

earlier, notes were passed round telling people to follow the ‘red umbrellas’, and as the crowd walked west along euston road, the umbrellas were raised. a plan was afoot, and a university occupation seemed to be the aim. the umbrellas took us down goodge street and then turned left towards the university of london union building – clearly this was the target.

however, at the doors there was a strange stand-off, with none other than clare solomon, the socialist president of the ULU, standing shoulder to shoulder with the university security guards, clearly ready for the incursion and determined to fight it off. there were angry exchanges between activists from both sides of the occupation divide, but many of the crowd seemed unaware of the division, and inertia took them further down the road.

if you have time, there is a possibly pertinent and interesting opinion piece here (http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6060) which sheds an anarchist perspective on some of the socialist would-be leaders of the students’ struggles, however, despite her socialist leanings, there is some favourable support for her tenure among many activists, and her speeches to date have often spoken of direct action, so it’s difficult to know what exactly the division was about at ULU yesterday.

down the road, there was a small fracas with police attempting an arrest. students showed powerful solidarity and performed a classic de-arrest, during which the target made a swift escape, and one policeman lost his helmet, while several others lost their tempers. however, the skirmish was soon over, and surprisingly, still no re-inforcements arrived, leaving the same dozen officers to follow the crowd as they once again set off on a walkabout at around 3.15.

reaching tottenham court road, there was another short roadblock, before someone spotted a barclays branch, and called out to occupy it. police raced against  protestors along the road, but at least a dozen activists managed to enter the branch before police gained control of the door. the branch was then closed for several minutes, eggs were thrown at the glass front, and a banner unfurled on a balcony, but those inside decided to leave together after a short while.

again, there was no visible sign of police re-inforcements other than the appearance of a squad car and a van at the bottom of tottenham court road redirecting traffic to close the road off.

chanting exuberantly, and with the bicycle sound system pumping out beats, the protest then took to oxford street. the first stop there was a vodafone shop, which immediately closed its doors while police formed a line in front.

advance warnings were clearly in operation, as the boots chemist branch further along already had its shutters down, trapping bemused customers inside. topshop at oxford circus had lines of security and police letting customers out but no would-be customers in.

the customary blockade of oxford circus lasted about ten to fifteen minutes at around 4pm, and again, there was no interference from the police. in fact, it was by now quite a good-natured interaction, and i also saw two officers warning off a couple of gentlemen who appeared to be attempting to pick bags amongst the students. other police chatted with motorists, calming them and no doubt telling them the protest would be moving along soon. one group sat right in the middle of the junction while others stood around, and some danced joyously to the sound system in the surprisingly warm sunshine.

after more discussion, and some googling to find out its location, the call went up to head for the libyan embassy. this is near the american embassy in grosvenor square, but as the students approached, it became clear that there were a group of a couple of hundred libyans already protesting outside the american embassy, so the students joined them.

LSE students made an announcement about the way the LSE has become a university for hire, and about their recent dicovery that the libyan dictator gaddafi had made a ‘donation’ to the university of one and a half million pounds. they described how within hours of this discovery they had organised an overnight occupation, and then negotiated with university financiers that in return for ending the occupation, a promise be made whereby all the money would be ring-fenced and used to provide bursaries and grants to future libyan students.

this announcement was met with much cheering and applause, and followed by more open mic speeches from the libyan protestors in front of the american embassy.

i left them there at around 5.30, but i believe a smaller number then marched on to UCL and began an occupation there. (more on this, and some other pics from the day athttp://london.indymedia.org/articles/7577).
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back at woburn house, police were still on guard at the doors.

after the extreme policing of student protests at the end of last year, it is difficult to second guess the police approach from event to event, but today’s passed off well, with a hands-off approach avoiding violence, allowing freedom of movement and speech, and in return finding a positive, exuberant, spontaneous and powerful protest not forced into defence or retaliation.

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London Students Occupy!

A group of student anti cuts activists from various London colleges have taken over the a Bedford square building (part of Royal Holloway University of London), as well as the adjoining premises in central London.

They want the space to become a hub for the student movement, as a free area to organize, collaborate and hold events!!! If your’e around, pop in and see them!!

WELL DONE GUYS!!!

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It’s official – UCL are back in occupation #demo2011 #solidarity#dayx4 http://twitter.com/UCLOccupation/ we have occupied the old refectory, the room directly opposite the JBR. we are having a meeting now, including discussing our demands.

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Royal Holloway Occupied

Royal Holloway have OCCUPIED the Arts Building

Education is in a period of crisis. The cuts to the teaching budget, the prioritisation of STEM subjects, and the increase in tuition fees have devalued our degrees, changed students into consumers of university prestige and post-degree job potential rather than pursuers of education for its own sake, and reduced the valuable resources and contact hours that are essential to diverse and encompassing courses.

We have already conveyed these concerns to the university management, and invited them to take part in a public meeting before the end of the last term, which they failed to organise, or enquire about.

As members of the University Management team are attending the Universities UK conference on Thursday 24th February, we press those representing RHUL to deliver a clear message to other vice-chancellors and management. This is a vital opportunity to make the case against an increase in tuition fees and spending cuts.

As Principal Paul Layzell himself said “we can only speak with our actions”. Therefore we have decided to hold a sit-in. We wish to emphasise the importance of these demands, and reclaim the university space. We shall encourage an open-door policy, will not hinder any students or workers from their day-to-day activities, and shall put on a variety of academic and cultural events as chosen by those participating in the sit-in as a practical demonstration of what the university could achieve without the limitations of spending cuts, raised tuition fees, and a ‘marketised’ structure of learning.

We enclose our demands.

1. The management should open the university accounts and books, and make them publicly available for anyone to see. In the letter ‘A statement by Royal Holloway, University of London on the proposed changes to Higher Education Funding’ dated 24th November 2010, the management stated that “Whilst the college makes a modest annual surplus, this is used to invest in infrastructure such as the current projects to extend teaching space in the School of Management and to replace the Drama Studio” – we want access to the accounts and to be informed on the decision making process that led to these investments, and a projection of any future use of any annual surplus.

2. There should be collective decision making over key decisions, involving all members of the university – lecturers, administrative and support staff, workers, and students.

3. These decisions should be taken in open meetings, which consult the collective university body and operate democratically.

4. The management should release a public statement on the future of Royal Holloway in which they declare the future of funding, and discuss all reports and potential actions.

5. In the aforementioned letter, the management stated it was investigating the “better use of facilities by conferences and events outside term time, fund raising from former students and other donors, offering some of our programmes overseas, distance learning options and a modest growth in international students” – we want to know the developments made in these investigations, and how they would impact on funding at Royal Holloway.

6. We want to know what assessments the college have made regarding the impact of cuts and raised tuition fees on women, ethnic minorities, disabled students, international students and widening participation schemes, given that the management have already stated that “funding cuts threaten widening participation programmes and investment in the student experience”, in the abovementioned letter.

7. The management also claimed in this letter that “We believe in the public value of higher education” and that the “College and its trade body, Universities UK has and continues to lobby Government over the proposed changes to Higher Education funding. We welcome the College’s approach and wish to know the details of the college’s actions in lobbying the Government, and how they have linked with other universities, unions and pressure groups in campaigning against the cuts and the raise in tuition fees.

8. The management should be heavily lobbying and pressuring government not to hand down spending cuts: stressing that they will not make these cuts, redundancies and fee increases & prioritise spending on jobs and education.

9. Given that Principal Paul Layzell stated “we’ve been very clear here, you have a right to protest and no one’s going to stop you doing it”, and the conduct during the sit-in led Steven Bland, Head of Facilities Management, to convey to the Student’s Union that, paraphrasing, ‘he was happy with the way things had gone. He commented that the students were peaceful and polite and together with security have come to the decision that students can come and go as they please’, we push for no action to be taken against participators in the sit-in, whether lecturers, administrative and support staff, workers, or students. We also call on the management to speak out against those universities seeking to take legal action on other participants in sit-ins across the country, for example, at Birmingham University. We pledge to maintain the same level of courtesy, welfare preparation, and lack of disruption as during the last sit-in.

The Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance

Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance
- e-mail: royalhollowayanticutsalliance@gmail.com
- Homepage: http://rhacc.wordpress.com

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Swp
Students protest at vice-chancellors’ meeting

by Siân Ruddick

Day X4 today saw students take to the streets to defend education and resist the government’s plans to massively raise tuition fees.

Hundreds picketed the Universities UK (UUK) offices in Tavistock Square, central London, where vice-chancellors held a meeting discussing the raising of fees.

Police attempted to keep students away from the building’s front door, but students broke through their lines and protested right outside the door.

They chanted, “UUK get out! We know what you are about! Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses!”

Students have come from universities across London, including LSE, King’s College, London Southbank, Goldsmiths, Soas and Westminster. Some school students have joined the march despite being on half term.

People marching from LSE stopped traffic as they went up Kingsway.

Michelle from Westminster University, said, “Our universities are not just making cuts. They are also hand in hand with the arms trade, investing our fees in bombs and bullets that oppress people across the world. We not only want free education but also ethical education and a world where no one profits from the murder of innocent people.”

Protesters blocked Euston Road and then marched round central London, occupying Barclay’s Bank on Tottenham Court Road.

They then marched to the US embassy to join a protest by Libyan people there. Hundreds of people are chanting, “42 years – enough is enough,” referring to Gaddafi’s long rule, and “Go, go Gaddafi.”

Students occupying Hull university marched out today to join an 800-strong council workers’ protest against cuts. And students at Cambridge university were to protest at 4pm today, following a successful mass meeting yesterday. Leeds university students held a show trial of their vice-chancellor ouside the student union today.

Manchester university was reoccupied yesterday by students taking over Roscoe Theatre A.

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East London Lines
Chaos at Goldsmiths building opening

Hordes of student protesters disrupted the official opening of multi-million pound state-of-the-art media facility at Goldsmiths, in New Cross on Tuesday evening.

The protest was sparked by the choice of Archie Norman, chairman of ITV and former Conservative MP, as the event’s guest of honour and the decision to make the event invite-only.

Demonstrators gathered outside the building’s entrance an hour before the event was set to begin, before around 100 of them entered the building with musical instruments, party hats and banners.

Organisers moved the officially invited guests to another building on the Goldsmiths campus, but protesters followed en masse chanting “Norman out!”

The college authorities attempted to go ahead with speeches in the staff dining room, but scores of protestors burst in as Norman began to speak, blowing horns and chanting. A small group of protesters threw eggs and water at Norman as he attempted to make his way through the crowd, and most of the dozens of bottles of the wine put out for guests instantly disappeared as the event ended in chaos.

The disruption cast a shadow over the opening of the New Academic Building (NAB), the biggest investment on the Goldsmiths campus for many years and which houses the university’s Media and Communications department.

One of the protest organizers, who would only give his name as Ron, said: “It’s our building – management didn’t mention anything about this event to students. So we thought we’d come along and make sure we were here for the opening of our building. It’s a protest against the marketisation and privatization of education.”

Goldsmiths management were at pains to point out that a large number of the student body had been invited.

Vicky Annand, Goldsmiths Head of Communications and Publicity, said. “Media & Communications and ICCE (Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship) students were invited and some were invited to do tours and showcase their work.”

“The building isn’t just for students, it’s for the community too. We host lectures and film shows here that all are invited to, and offer space that community groups can book during the summer months.”

A Goldsmiths spokesperson added: 
“The New Academic Building provides excellent facilities for two world-leading Goldsmiths departments and all of the students in the College. We had hoped to celebrate the building and we are saddened we could not do so as we had hoped.”

Archie Norman was seen as a controversial choice to open the new building by a number of students due to the fact that he was a former Conservative MP.

Norman said: “I’m surprised they think I’m worth the attention. I am no longer in politics and have no say in public sector cuts.” He emphasized that the NAB represents that there is continuing investment in media subjects, and that he is happy to see and speak to students. “I’ll come back in peacetime” he added.

Jim Rowland, the department’s administrative coordinator, said he had been involved with the development of the new building for 20 years and was “too upset and angry” to comment further.

A TUC rally held at the same time in a nearby building on the Goldsmiths campus also became a target for protesters, and the TUC’s General Secretary, Brendan Barber, was confronted by a group of demonstrators with banners.

Goldsmiths students have been involved in a number of protests in recent months, including the occupation of the university’s library and Deptford Town Hall buildings. Goldsmiths Students’ Union also played an active role in the nationwide student protests at the end of last year.

Hugh Jones, Goldsmiths registrar and secretary, said “you’ve got to keep it in perspective. It’s very Goldsmiths”

Reporting by Germaine Arnold, Chris Stevenson and Charlie Cooper

Video: Chris Stevenson, edited by Germaine Arnold

Video of the NAB from September 2010 by Emily Jupp


Original Post from Birmingham Students Against the Cuts

It has come to our attention that the University has preemptively placed restrictions on staff and student activity in the Aston Webb building in response to the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts Day of Action.

We can only presume that they have done so to prevent any direct action by Stop Fees and Cuts.  In so doing they have created more disruption to students and staff than any action by us would have done and incurred unnecessary costs to themselves.
We had not planned any actions for the day and informed the university that we were going to do nothing in attempt to save them money.
nevertheless the University now will have to pay security costs and will have inconvenienced many of its members.
We hope the University administration , after all the trouble will reconsider the unnecessary cuts they are making to the detriment of the education and livelihoods of students and employees at Birmingham.
We are, however, far from happy at the disruption their actions will cause to the educations of students whose futures are our primary motivation for all our actions.
Other universities manage to handle protests and occupations by students without causing such disruption.  Over the past months the University has become very familiar with our methods and must surely realise that we have never acted to harm people or property and carry out direct actions with the view to causing minimal disruption to the normal activities of the University.  We hope that people will note that the common feature of any inconvenience caused by political protests on campus, real or imagined, is not the actions of protestors, but the grossly heavy-handed reactions of the administration.  This latest example comes after the University sent in security to violently break up a peaceful occupation and, subsequently, starting disciplinary proceedings (later abandoned) against any politically active students in the vicinity; expended large amounts of its own money on policing and surveillance of a protest consisting of a dozen or so students, many with disabilities and, perhaps most ridiculously, preemptively locking down the site of the above mentioned occupation to prevent reprisals on the day of disciplinary interviews, predicated on the fire hazard caused by blocking the same room.

We are at a loss to explain why the University management acts to its own detriment in these ways.  The only possible explanation is that they fear the increased attention these protests draw to their running of the University .  As well they might. The Vice Chancellor is the most well paid in the country, receiving £392, 000 last year, an increase of 11% on the year before.  97 staff now earn more than £100,000 a year and increase from 28 in 2000, this year alone management pay increases have cost £1.3 million pounds to students.  At the same time support staff earning little more than minimum wage are receiving real term pay cuts.  Relations between academic staff and management have deteriorated to the extent that they are considering strike action.  Senior management has responded by, cynically, feigning concern for the effect this will have on students’ education, whilst cutting funding of departments with some even facing closure.  All this has happened despite the University running a surplus.  Not to mention that Vice Chancellor David Eastwood sat on the Browne Review, which recommended unlimited tuition fees, and has since been cheerleading these measures in the media.

We will continue to hold the management of the University to account in spite of their aggressive reaction and invite others to join us.


Bit of inspiration for the upcoming year!