Messages of Solidarity

Some messages of support to the UCL occupation – we’re working through all messages sent to Please keep them coming, and let us know if you’d like us to publish them online.

Jump to:
Teaching and Support Staff
Students and Former Students
Media & Press
Trade Unionists

Teaching and Support Staff

When my radio alarm went off on Thursday morning, I was so pleased to hear that the third news item on Radio 4 included mention of the UCL occupation going on throughout the night. The occupation has been invaluable in demonstrating that thought-provoking, constructive and peaceful protest can be carried out very well. I think the degree of media attention you’ve attracted is testament to that, and it’s sending a strong message both nationally and to UCL senior management, who have been thoroughly shamed in a very public way as a result. I’m very proud to be part of such an articulate and principled student community, who have shown so much solidarity with the staff and departments who are at the sharp end of the cuts.

You may be interested to read this blog post on the student protests by Michael Collins at UCL English department

Sarah Marks, PhD student at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL and postgraduate teaching assistant at SSEES.

As a member of staff and having children who have now left university I congratulate you on your action and offer you my support. Education should not be dependent on the ability to pay.
Sally Lynch

I’d just like to convey my message of support for the UCL occupation.
As a PhD student with younger siblings I am very upset by the attempts of this government to continue to erode student rights, with the rise in fees which will have a negative impact on so many young people. I am particularly worried that students from poorer backgrounds like myself will be disheartened and dissuaded from applying for humanities, arts and social sciences – these subjects will become the preserve of the rich while poorer students, if they go to university at all, will be forced to choose vocational courses.
As someone who works in UCL Outreach office, I am saddened that this government is single-handedly undermining our efforts to widen participation at UCL and to reach out to communities who lack the social, cultural and economic capital needed to progress to HE. It is breathtaking that the Browne report can talk about the need for outreach whilst as the same time proposing cuts in funding that will mean that many universities cut back on outreach and widening participation services. It will be impossible for my department to continue encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider applying to UCL if the government makes studying a privilege, not a right.
As a teaching assistant in the History department at UCL, I am worried about the effect that swingeing cuts will have on teaching quality at British universities, as well as the negative impact that this is likely to have on young academics who already struggle to get onto the career ladder. I am concerned that there will be two tiers of universities – those who can charge the highest fees will also win the majority of the research budget – and that research, which has the potential to attract outside funding, will be prioritised at the expense of good teaching and effective pastoral care for our students.
Thank you,
Charlotte Lydia Riley

Wishing you all success in your campaign.
Dr. Hugh Goodacre
Teaching Fellow, University College London

I attempted to join an occupation of a government building in Sydney when I was undergraduate back in 1989 in protest against the introduction of student fees in Australia, but the police held me and my friends back, so your protest is bringing back memories for this crusty old academic. Good luck!
Adam C Schembri, PhD, Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre | University College London

Dear Students and Colleagues,
Your occupation and mobilization is showing us the way to resist the cuts not only at the universities but also at the work places. Cuts in education and the rise in tuition fees are neither neccessary nor rational from a social and economic viewpoint. Education is a public good, should be free and has to be financed by progressive taxes. You are now showing that cuts are also not unavoidable, and we have an alternative. I will join you in the occupation. In solidarity,
Dr. Ozlem Onaran, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Middlesex University

I just want to send along a message of support to the students in the Bentham room.
As an aside, you may be interested to know that the Bentham room has had that name since 2003, and so it is six years younger than the university fees themselves.
Eric Gordy, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

Congratulations on your fantastic initiative and much support for your actions!
Workers and students standing together will defeat these attacks on our young people’s futures.
In solidarity
Geoff Williams, Senior Research Fellow, Mental Health Sciences / Phonetics

More years ago than I care to remember I spent several weeks occupying the administration buildings at Manchester University when students protesting against a previous Tory govt’s attacks on higher education were threatened with expulsion. I hope your occupation does not last as long as ours did (it was a bit smelly in the end) but think it is fantastic that you and tens of thousands of other students in schools, colleges and universities across the country are protesting and fighting not just for your own education or for the right to education for future students but for the whole idea of education as a social good, something not to be charged for and commercialised but something which is good in of itself and which benefits us all.
In solidarity,
Dr Andrew Flinn, Senior Lecturer, UCL & member of UCL UCU committee

Fantastic news about the UCL occupation, which has my full support. The cuts planned by the ‘coalition government’ threaten the whole basis of higher education in the UK. They should be opposed by all universities, researchers, teachers and staff, as well as by all current and future students.
John Foot, Department of Italian, UCL

As a member of staff (recently student) I’ve been invited to offer a message of support to those students occupying UCL – you have this in full!
Your demands are solid, and I am particularly heartened to see the inclusion of protection for cleaning, catering and security staff in the list of demands – we must all unite in solidarity.
I’m sorry I could not be with you today – perhaps tomorrow (I’ll bring hot coffee and something sweet!)
You represent the living heart of university education – demanding the right and responsibility to work with staff for the production and dissemination of knowledge. I look forward to the development, as I’m sure you must, of a project for our universities that counters the assault by those with no mandate.
Thank you for your actions that begin to shine a light on the alternative,
Yours, Nick Beech (teaching fellow and PhD candidate, UCL)

We can, must and need to SAY NO to the cuts. And we have to do it together with all the other groups which will be hit most by the cuts – women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, workers in the public administration, undergraduate students. The more of us will express their dissent, the more effective our protest will be.
We reject the logic which sets education against health care; science against humanities; intellectuals against the working class. The real choice is between a fair and safe society, which values culture, solidarity and variety, and a greedy and unsafe world, in which no real space for free education and research is given.
We are for more public spending in research, tuition-free universities, freedom of thought and research, public welfare and more social fairness.
Leo Goretti (PhD Student at the University of Reading and co-founder of the campaign. PhDs unite against the cuts )

Students and Former Students

Dear UCL Occupation

I just wanted to send you a message of support to say how much I admire your actions.

As an ex-UCL student (I graduated in 2004) I firmly believe that my degree from one of the best universities in the country has given me the choices and career I have today. UCL opened doors for me. If I was about to start at university there is no doubt that my family and I would never have been able to afford the fees UCL and other Russell Group universities are proposing.

It is wrong that only the wealthiest should have access to world class education without the spectre of lifelong debt. The weak attempts to say poorer students will be suported is unconvincing and vague as are the so called policies that say students would pay back their fees after they were earning enough. All the rise in fees will do is create an even larger gap between the rich and the poor and I applaud your efforts to oppose this.

With very best wishes – Ellen Harrison

Dear UCL occupiers
I am a former student and was among the first year of students to have to pay Tuition Fees back in 1998. Between 1999 and 2000, hundreds of us were involved in rolling occupations of the University Registry, Torrington Place offices, the Haldane Room and even the Vice-Provost’s office at one point. One of our main slogans to wider society was “if you tolerate this, then your children will be next!” I am sorry to say that at the time, an era of relative economic prosperity, misguided faith in the New Labour government and with isolated and numerically few social struggles going on, our movement was defeated.
Worse still, a decade later it seems that our warning went unheeded and with proposed fees some nine times higher now that they were back then, our prediction has been fulfilled and millions of our children will indeed be next.
Unlike our fight, I believe that you will win this time.
Your prospects are different. The government is weak, not strong. The economic situation is dire, not booming, the media covers you non-stop instead of ignoring you and most importantly, you have millions of the most vulnerable behind you who are also facing catastrophic cuts to their pensions, welfare benefits, security of their jobs, homes and futures as well as millions more of the socially conscious who loath what the government is doing to our education system.
Stay strong, stand united, never let university management intimidate you and always remember that your actions are inspiring thousands of the rest of us around the country to start standing up for themselves like you are.
Yours in solidarity, Dan Ozarow

Was a UCL student, and now I’m living in the US where the higher-education system is purely for the privileged. Don’t let that become the norm in the UK – good job guys! If I was still in London, I’d be right there with you.
Duncan Cook

Solidarity from the LSE sabb team.

Solidarity with your action on behalf of students and workers. You are an example to us all.
Simon Hewitt

Fantastic to see UCL occupied and I hope you can keep going for as long as it takes!!!
Sean Winstanley, English Literature UCL 1994.

Just read you message on Twitter, wishing you good luck today.
Huma, PhD research student, Cybernetics, Reading

I am a former UCL student who finished my Master’s course in September. I would like to wish you the very best of luck with your occupation. What is being done to higher education is utterly disgusting and I hope your protests are powerful and successful.
Andrew Nowell.

We occupied Middlesex University earlier in the year (in protest of the cut to our Philosophy department, more generally against the neoliberalisation of education, and to provide a space to run workshops, events and seminars). So excited to see so many other universities occupying this week. Have fun!
Solidarity and best wishes,

A few months ago, when the education cuts were disclosed for the first time in Britain, I told my classmates at UCL: “In my country, we would have closed down universities for six months”. I was not kidding. In 1999, the government attempted to impose fees for the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), that had always been “public, secular and free”. A massive movement of students took the streets and went on a strike for 11 months. The movement won because fees were withdrawn. The movement lost because the strike ended with the military occupation of the campus. So we learnt two lessons. First, students really can stop neoliberal policies and defend education and other rights as a universal rights. Students realized they had the power to stand and change the course of the country. The second lesson was less sweet but equally important: any political movement that stems from the masses should stick to the masses. This sounds obvious but sometimes it’s forgotten. An elite led our movement not always listening to the people that day-to-day demonstrated and kept the strike alive. This was a problem, but this was our experience and you are maybe living something totally different.
What I want to say is that the fact that the British students are taking the streets is encouraging for the peoples around the world. I’m not being original in saying that revolutionaries from all over the world have always awaited the rise of the English workers, students and peasants. We go through hard times for the class struggle everywhere. The cultural battle seems to be won by the right: Now, that poverty and inequality are worse than 50 years ago!, now, that many rights have been lost in many places! Now, your movement seems so important for us. If you can, we can. If you rebel, we all want to follow you.
From Mexico, where we are celebrating two hundred years of our Independence, and one hundred from our Revolution, we say: go on, don’t give up and teach the world a lesson of dignity and resistance.
Emiliano Ruiz Parra

Fantastic to see UCL occupied and I hope you can keep going for as long as it takes!!!
love, Sean (UCL student, 1990-1994)

Greetings from a UCL drop-out now going to Goldsmiths!
Just wanted to say, congratulations for the occupation. Very very proud to hear this, good luck holding the fort.
We’re all behind you, guys! Let’s keep the momentum going.
Ben Taylor, UCL 08-10, Goldsmiths 10-13

I am a third year ESPS student currently doing my year abroad in Madrid, Spain, and I wish I could be there with you to support the movement, I completely
disagree with this government policy. I am French, and studying in the UK have be a blessing, and for me to cut budgets and increase the tuiton fees implies
going against progress, since we, the students, are the future of this society, and preventing us to study properly is like stabbing the future generation that we
are in the back. It’s always the same, cutting the grass under the feet of the youth is not the solution, it is, in fact, the problem. Stay strong,
Thank you, your fight is right, and know that there are many students like me abroad who support you.
Lucile Bornot

Media, Arts + Celebrities

hello and good luck to you. After a decade of banality could the radical be on the rise? Robin Ince (Twitter)

support to @UCLOccupation and all the students and school kids standing up to the govt. Keep fighting. You are in the right and you can win! – Richard Herring (Twitter)

Hello – I hope you’re aware how inspiring you are. After all education is vital, to learn never to trust filthy lying Lib-Dems – Mark Steele (Twitter)

I just wanted to lend you my support and congratulate you all in defending the rights of future students to have access to higher education. I am deeply proud that students at an institution I studied at are at the forefront of protesting against the coalition government’s shortsighted and inequitable attack on our education system. A university education enriches and emancipates not just individuals but society as a whole. Anything that risks excluding poorer students is not just an attack on education, but an attack on the very fabric of a democratic and just society.
When i was a medical student fees were introduced and we too occupied UCL on several occasions in 1999/2000. 160 students were faced with being thrown off their courses because they had not paid their fees due to financial problems and we protested in an act of solidarity. The students were allowed to continue with their studies. Well done for continuing the long-standing tradition, going back to it’s very birth, that UCL has for standing up for the rights of people to access education regardless of their social background. Jeremy Bentham would be proud.
It is vital that we all send a clear message to the coalition government that their proposals will not be tolerated.
Again, well done for making a stand and good luck
Dr Max Pemberton
The Daily Telegraph


To all those occupying at UCL,
As a future student (I’m 15) I’d like to thank you for taking this action.
Keep strong, the world is behind you.

Anna, Liverpool

Keep it up guys, you are a true inspiration.

Solidarity and action in an age of apathy.

– Mit Shah

Ignore what the doubters say!
You are proving that students can protest without violence!
Don’t give up!

On behalf of the Students of Trinity Saint David’s University Wales Lampeter Campus
who took part in the 10th November Protests in London without one violent protester

Just wanted to tell you: bloody well done!
Best wishes Jack Graham

We are right behind you. Condems have no right to restrict your rights to an education. We do not want this country run by the likes of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club; bigoted snobs & yobs.
Take care, stand up for yourselves but take care of yourselves.
Tracey Ruskin
Gregory Lewis

Be strong, be brave, well done!
Angela Hardy

Greetings from an old occupier (Wolverhampton mayor’s suite against full fees for overseas students, and the faculty of art and design against cuts in the 80s)(yes we did steal the mayor’s booze)
Students are leading the way in the fight against this Con-dem govt who are intent on butchering education, the welfare state and anything else they can get their hands on. Thank you! Let’s hope this is the start of something bigger so that we can get rid of this bunch of millionaire prats…
Rob Pembro

I wish students didn’t have to take such actions, and wish it wasnt necessary, but I support each one of the listed occupation
Harry Bruhns

Trade Unionists

Unequivocal support and total solidarity from the frozen North.
Yours in comradeship,
Ben Sellers
(Northern Region Labour Representation Committee LRC)

Solidarity in your occupation and your struggle to defend education and access to it. Good to see that you have included the living wage for all staff in your demands.
Pete Firmin, President, Brent Trades Union Council and Brent Fightback

I have read about your principled stand to defend access to HE; to oppose cuts and fees; to support the lowest paid university staff; and to demand no victimisation of students making these demands.
I congratulate you on your stand. You, and the students taking action elsewhere, are setting a fine example to all other students and staff.
Mike Cushman
Secretary LSE UCU

35 Responses to Messages of Solidarity

  1. Alice says:

    I work for another University of London college in Bloomsbury. Its fantastic that you guys are making a stand against an unfair increase in tuition fees (interest rates of RPI + 3% is outrageous). Also Malcolm Grant drives everyone mad so well done for sticking it to him too!

  2. Emma says:

    I fully support your non violent direct action and attempts to keep the issues as high profile as possible. Education is right, not a privilege for the privileged few. Please also help raise the issue of the scandalous scrapping of EMA. EMA has had the single biggest impact on enabling many of the vulnerable young people that I work with to remain in education post 16, broaden their horizons and achieve their goals and aspirations. University may never be an option for these young people, but the loss of £30 per week will be the difference between going to college or giving up, on many things.
    Yours, in solidarity

  3. hellyn goodwin says:

    We are in occupation at University Plymouth and have had no direct response for our VC. Prof Wendy Purcell. There has been response to the ‘media’ but none direct to us. We laid out a set of demands and handed them to her Wednesday.
    We have had a non-violent peaceful and productive time. People have come in support with comments, food, blankets, and letters of support. I have been overwhelmed by the response and the negative view of some doesn’t dent the faith I have felt growing in me due to the dedication and passion I have seen in my fellow younger students…I’m so proud that that fighting spirit is still in some of us.
    Of course the funding issues are paramount but out of this? Unity and solidarity has once again emerged and must keep growing to the communities as these awful cuts descend in 2011 and beyond, it is our commitment that will steel the rest of the country into action. Be proud students! be very very proud always that you made a stand for what is right.
    A very tired postgrad worried for my Phd dream.

  4. Aurora Plomer says:

    I would like to congratulate you and add my support to your peaceful protest. The UK was a leading founder of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), a legally binding Treaty which proclaims that:

    “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education” ICESCR, Article 13 (c)

    The government’s proposals for higher education are fundamentally regressive, not progressive.

    Yours is a just cause.

    Aurora Plomer

  5. Kate at Warwick says:

    Well done guys, brilliantly done (specifically the dance for freedom)!
    May the action against the privatisation of education continue.

    Love and solidarity,

    Kate, Student of the University of Warwick.

  6. Dr. G says:

    Well done, keep going.

  7. Dear UCL Occupiers,

    Greetings and solidarity from Climate Rush. We fully support your demands; and note that during a time of climatic and social crisis government spending cuts will serve only to exacerbate the problems faced by society.

    In order to combat social inequality and climate change new ways of thinking are required. As such people from all social, cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds need to be encouraged and supported in higher education.

    Cuts to the UK higher education budget and increased tuition fees run directly contrary to this.

    Good luck and keep in there.

    Climate Rush.

  8. Vincent Hammersley says:

    I would like to express my support and admiration. You did not make the mess and you should not have to pay for it. It is about time the Vice Chancellors came out of hiding to support a fair HE system for all, none of them had to pay tuition fees, neither did any of our two faced politicians.

    Vincent Hammersley,

    President, Warwick University UCU

  9. Charlotte Lydia Riley says:

    More writing from Michael Collins on the Browne Review (who is from UCL *History* dept, not English as above).

  10. Rebecca Elliott says:

    Just wanted to congratulate you all and wish you every success. There are many grateful mums and dads out here who appreciate your efforts to ensure equality of access to educational opportunities for our children. Whatever coverage (or lack of it) given to you by the media, at heart, us mums and dads are proud of what you are standing for and standing up against. Well done each and every one of you.
    I attended UCL back in 1991 and my son is in the process of applying to UCL – if he gets in, he will surely be in good company –

    Rebecca J B Elliott

  11. LAWAS says:

    The Latin American Workers Association (LAWAS) stands side by side with UCL students in support of their occupation. Education and public service cuts are a disgrace and must be stopped. We won’t allow the poor to pay for the excesses of the banking system. We won’t allow this government to continue blaming migrants for their own miseries. We will fight exploitation and victimisation of the working class in the UK, not only cleaners, but across all sectors and communities, regardless of nationalities or immigration status. Students, workers, migrants, we are ALL ONE and as ONE we will fight. Because an injury to one is an injury to all.


    LAWAS General Assembly

  12. Tom says:

    Best wishes to all in your /our struggle. How van any student ever vote lib dem ever again? La lutte continue!

  13. Pingback: URGENT: Extraordinary General Meeting – Motion to support the UCL occupation. | UCL Occupation

  14. Hello friends!

    We are members of TOKAD (Social Solidarity Organization) and Ozgur Egitim-Sen (a teacher’s union).

    We have been following your honorful resistance against the cuts in education and the rise in tuition fees from Turkey.

    Although we are far away from the UK, we can see the lights of your struggle.

    We’d just like to send our solidarity message of support for the UCL occupation. Your demand is absolutely right as well as your fight!

    The resistence must be globalised against the global capitalism!

    We congratulate you on your action.

    In solidarity,

    Members of TOKAD and Ozgur Egitim-Sen
    Tokat, Turkey

  15. Richard Hall says:

    In solidarity.

    Dr Richard Hall,
    National Teaching Fellow (2009), and Reader in Education and Technology, De Montfort University

  16. David Doyle says:

    A big up to all the UCL occupiers from Canterbury Christ Church University students!

    Keep up the great work, there is massive support out there and the pressure is growing on the LibDems!


  17. Just want to write and applaud you all for everything you are doing there. You are right: the Tories do represent a new dark age of philistinism and harm to our society.

    Keep the faith and keep it up.

    In solidarity,

    Charles @ FAT

    Lecturer at Canterbury School of Arch and UCL student 94-96

  18. Dr Simon Murray says:

    Congratulations on your courageous and imaginative action. This is a great model of productive protest.

    Dr Simon Murray
    University of Glasgow

  19. David Cross says:

    You are waking people from their dark dreams, to join your brave and generous work.

    You are winning the respect of old adversaries, and the support of new allies.

    Your Occupation is an Inspiration!

  20. Murad Banaji says:

    As former UCL staff, and part of the UCL antiwar movement, I’m finding the current occupation very impressive and inspiring. The display of organisation, creativity, and stamina have bowled me and many others over. Keep going.

  21. Graham Bradley MSc CGeol FGS FRGS says:

    Dear occupiers, While I fully support your protest against cuts to higher education, I do think you need to recognise that value for money depends on both cost and quality. There is currently little meritocracy in HE teaching and little direct accountability for the standard of individual teachers. I have heard many cynical attitudes aimed at undergraduates and teaching by lecturers at UCL. No HE lecturers are employed on the basis of their teaching abilities and in many cases they are not held responsible for the quality of teaching. If you want value for money in UK HE then this needs to change. Good luck with your occupation and remember that cheap education is pointless if the standard of teaching is poor.

  22. Hannah says:

    Dear all students and occupiers,

    Having left Britain earlier this year after graduating feeling disappointed, low and without purpose, you have put my pessimism to shame. I wish you well and thank you for the hope you have inspired. Keep going!


  23. keep it up! We occupied in 2000 when tuition fees were first brought in, now you have to again. Fight the good fight, the hearts and minds of the British people are behind you, you can and already have made a difference. In Solidarity, Joe Buirski from The Magpie’s Nest. (have changed our homepage to support you)

  24. Pingback: On The Beach: Dispatches From Europe

  25. Annie Massey says:

    Good for you, today’s UCL students, because you will be the leaders of tomorrow and therefore it is your absolute duty to speak up today. “Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward” – that is UCL’s fantastic motto – it should be the watchword for higher education anywhere. Only when everyone who wants it can afford education will we have any chance at an equal society.

    Best wishes for your continued peaceful protest.

    Annie Massey
    Biochemistry, 1968-1971

  26. Kevin Barry says:

    I just want to say that I fully support the struggle by all the students, from those at school, through to those at F.E colleges and those attending universities. We’ve all got to fight Tory/Banker austerity cuts, and the increasingly marketisation of education.

    We’ve also got to fight the useless careerist ‘leadership’ of the N.U.S., and the Labour Party.

    Unite and Fight!

  27. Lita Wallis says:

    Solidarity with the UCL occupiers. The space of oppositional learning which you have created is really inspiring.

    Best of luck to you on Tuesday – let us know if we can be helpful.

    Lita Wallis
    Sussex Students’ Union

  28. As a past student of UCL (Botany and Genetics 1983), PhD Botany 1990 and Education and Welfare Officer of UCL Students Union (1984) I fully support your protest against education cuts.

    I was one of the lucky ones, I finished my degree in 1983, before the Thatcher government started to cut domestic student grants. If I had had to pay for my higher education I doubt I would be a University academic today. Poorer students will be put off by higher fees and the UK will lose out on those bright young minds.

    We occupied the admin corridor at UCL back in 1980, protesting about the introduction of full fees for overseas students, another move to get more money and disadvantage the poorest in the world. That was when students from poor countries could afford to study at UCL!

    Keep up the good work, good luck on Tuesday

  29. Pingback: Let’s unite « mariechaudet

  30. Professor/author Ira Shor–a key thinker and doer of engaged pedagogy within the school system & student-empowered learning–has sent Leeds occupation a message of solidarity:

    “Bravo! Keep fighting back against the disastrous policies of cutting budgets and raising costs. Education must be defended as a democratic right for the majority and stopped as privilege for an elite.

    Prof. Ira Shor
    City University of New York Graduate Center”

    United we stand against cuts, empower the students and the public! Please repost for support of the UK occupations.

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