Sit-in at Rose Bruford

June 19, 1998

Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama was occupied this week by 100 students demanding an independent inquiry into the "crisis" there. There have been rumours of cuts and a row over three teachers leaving.

The college insisted in a statement that the protests would not disrupt courses and that the college was expanding. Funding for 215 more students had been received, the college said.

Students were planning a rally on Sunday to raise awareness of a dispute surrounding the sacking of two teachers and the resignation of a third, who is claiming constructive dismissal. All are taking their cases to industrial tribunal. Students backed a staff vote of no confidence in principal Robert Ely. The situation has also resulted in 20 visiting academics boycotting the college as a protest.

Second-year student Rachel Osborne said she had been in the sit-in for six nights. "A lot of people are scared that we will have nothing left," she said. There was incredulity, she added, that college governors had not responded to student requests for support and information about the future of the college.

The college has mobilised the support of various big-name actors, including Full Monty star Steve Huison, a Rose Bruford alumnus. "An organisation this small cannot take so many resignations," he said. "I admire the students for sticking together."

The college blamed the dispute on an "orchestrated campaign" of misinformation by lecturers' union Natfhe. The row was an attempt to "destabilise the college", it said, and was harming the reputation of the individuals involved.

The college said it had chosen to follow the legal process rather than air "the problem" publicly.

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