Occupation at Birmingham as protesters call for nationwide action

A group of University of Birmingham students occupied one of its main buildings, calling for free education and the right to protest

November 26, 2014

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, University of Birmingham

Reports on Twitter suggested that the group had later ended their 26 November occupation after the arrival of police.

The group said that they were acting in “defiance of management’s tactics to try to suppress student protest”.

About 40 students from the Defend Education Birmingham campaign took over parts of the Aston Webb building, which contains lecture theatres, science laboratories, the Great Hall, Senate Chamber and an office of the vice-chancellor.

The protestors listed eight demands in a statement published on the website of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. The first calls for the university and its vice-chancellor, David Eastwood, to “take back their position that fees should be increased”.

Other demands include that students not be offered accommodation that exceeds in cost the amount they receive in loans and grants and that the university recognises occupations as a legitimate form of protest.

The students also condemned the university for suspending two students in response to a similar occupation in November 2013.

The group said: “The areas we are occupying also play a key role in the corporatisation of our university, which sees power concentrated in the hands of the few, education treated as a commodity and our institution become more like a business.”

The university said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that a small number of masked individuals have again illegally occupied a key teaching and administrative space at the University of Birmingham causing considerable disruption to students, staff and visitors. It is particularly disappointing that they have chosen to do so when we have several hundred school pupils visiting who have been unable to access parts of campus.”

The statement added: “Universities are places of free speech and we respect the rights of our students and staff to protest peacefully and within the law. This is clearly outlined in our freedom of speech code of practice.”

Deborah Hermanns, an organiser from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said the occupation “demonstrates that students refused to be repressed and we hope to see more actions like this on the 3 December when campuses from across will be mobilising for free education”.

holly.else@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi