Students forced to end sit-in, but vow to fight on

May 20, 2010

Philosophy students at Middlesex University have ended a sit-in protest over the closure of their courses after management took out a High Court injunction against them.

About 50 protesters began an occupation of the Mansion Building at the university's Trent Park campus in north London on 4 May, leaving 11 days later.

The sit-in was sparked by plans to phase out all undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in philosophy, and all postgraduate research. During the occupation, the university said that if the protest ended it might consider the reinstatement of recruitment on part-time master's programmes, which it had previously said would stop immediately.

The protesters left after the university took legal action to force them out.

Middlesex said all current philosophy students would be able to complete their studies, but many feared the closure of courses meant the end for the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), which was the university's top-rated department in the 2008 research assessment exercise.

Johann Hoiby, a second-year philosophy undergraduate who took part in the sit-in, said the campaign to reverse the closure decision had "only just begun".

Middlesex is the second university to gain an injunction against student protesters this year. Six Sussex students were due to face a disciplinary hearing this week after an occupation on the campus in March.

Philosophy staff at Middlesex want answers from the university on the future of the CRMEP. They also want to know what the university plans to do with CRMEP research income resulting from the RAE, which was £173,260 in 2009-10.

A university spokeswoman said: "Discussions with philosophy staff are ongoing in this area."

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