PRESS RELEASE 24/11/2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UCL UCU Executive support for UCL student occupation
A significant number of UCL students have succeeded in staging a peaceful occupation of UCL’s Jeremy Bentham Room in the Wilkins Building.
They have collectively drawn up a list of certain demands to be placed on UCL management, calling on them to
* Issue a statement condemning all cuts to higher education and the rise in tuition fees
* Implement a complete ‘open books’ policy with regards to existing budget constraints
* Ensure no redundancies for teaching, research or support staff
* Reverse its outsourcing policy by bringing staff back in-house
* Implement the full living wage package for all cleaning, catering and security staff with no cuts to hours and jobs
* Ensure no victimisation or repercussions for anyone participating in the occupation
* Allow free access in and out of the occupation.
The occupiers hope their actions will add to pressure on the Coalition Government from a wide range of protests – including walk-outs, demonstrations, and other university occupations – happening today as part of the National Day of Action. This day of action was called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and the Education Activist Network. It builds on the momentum of the 50,000+ students, staff and supporters who forged the path of resistance to austerity by demonstrating on November 10. Monday and Tuesday saw a national wave of university occupations taking shape at SOAS, UWE, Manchester Metropolitan, Plymouth and Royal Holloway. More occupations are taking place today.
These actions take aim at government proposals for large increases in HE tuition fees, the slashing of the universities teaching budget, the effective removal of the EMA grant to 16-19 year olds from poorer backgrounds, and the axing of grants aimed at Adult returners to Education.
The government’s proposals do not merely raise the question of some universities being ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Many young people will be priced out of A Levels, never mind university. Tuition fees for Further Education courses are now being openly discussed. A fees market, exacerbated by teaching grant cuts, divides faculty from faculty, and discipline from discipline. Recruitment into highly demanding subjects with poor financial prospects are expected to be hit hard. Increasing student numbers are likely to drop out part-way through their education.
UCL UCU defends the rights of all who take part in these acts of non-violent civil disobedience and we condemn any victimisation and witch-hunting of the same. We call on UCL management to respect the fact that students do not take such actions lightly and that this protest, which is directed primarily against Government policy, should be allowed to go ahead without the use of physical force or disciplinary threats against participants.
We offer our full support to students occupying today because their cause is just. UCU policy, agreed at UCU Congress 2010 (HE18) expressly gives support to peaceful student occupations in defence of education. On Monday, our members voted to defend students victimised as a result of the demonstrations on 10 November. We therefore encourage our members to take part in and build this peaceful occupation, and call on UCL management to join the public movement to defend Education, and openly condemn the government’s proposals.
UCL UCU Executive Committee
Contact details for interviews and messages of support:
UCL UCU – firstname.lastname@example.org
UCL occupiers – email@example.com
HE18 Solidarity with our students
– The recent wave of student protests against education cuts at a number of universities, including Sussex, Westminster and London Met.
– The development of a vibrant student movement is a key ingredient in a successful fight against education cuts and job losses, and that UCU must seek alliances with students and their organisations in that fight.
Conference resolves to:
– Urge branches to work with local student representatives to plan joint campaigning in order to better resist education cuts and job losses;
– Organise joint campaigning and co-ordinated actions with national NUS, and local student anti-cuts campaigns, as and when possible;
– Support the right of student self-activity (including occupations and other non-violent direct actions) in defending staff jobs and education provision;
– Support any student faced with victimisation for taking part in non-violent direct action in support of staff unions and in defence of staff jobs and education provision.