Today’s day of action for free education, called by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and Student Assembly Against Austerity, saw students on up to 40 campuses take part in protests, stunts and occupations. There were sit ins and occupations in Warwick, Manchester, Lancaster and King’s College London, while activists in London occupied the Universities UK offices for 2 hours. The occupation in Warwick was met with unprecedented levels of Police violence, with 3 arrests, and reports of CS sprays being used.
Warwick was not the only campus to see Police enter campus in an attempt to deal with protests. At SOAS, students managed to force a Police riot van to leave, reinforcing the message that cops are not welcome on our campuses. Students at Warwick have called a #copsoffcampus demonstration tomorrow, at 3pm. Send messages of protest to Warwick Vice-Chancellor Nigel Thrift: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ali reports from KCL:
“At King’s we held a lunchtime sit-in in the main foyer. Around 50 people participated. Through happy coincidence it was also Open Day. Along with current students participating in the sit-in, prospective students on guided tours got the chance to hear about what’s happening at King’s.
The sit-in was focused primarily around on-campus campaigns, where a common thread is the lack of democracy in decisions taken by management that affect students and staff. There were speakers from the student-staff campaign against the awarding of a Visiting Professor position to David Willetts, who brought in £9,000 tuition fees, and other cuts to education, during his time as Minister of Universities and Science.
Student Union president Sebastiaan Debrouwere spoke about free education and the appointment of David Willetts. Other speakers included students from the ‘Fossil-Free KCL’ campaign, GTA pay campaign and the LGBTQ+ Association campaign, which aims to make King’s de-associate from publically homophobic figures such as Lord Carey and the Sultan of Brunei. After the speakers had finished addressing the crowd from a balcony, some students went to the Open Day talks for prospective students and spoke about the lack of affordable housing for students at King’s, which has shut one halls this year and is in the process of selling off its cheapest accommodation to re-developers. He encouraged those listening to tweet KCL about the matter. For many students the lack of affordable housing through King’s or in London, compounded by the astronomical debt students must take on, makes studying at KCL beyond their budget.”
In Manchester a group occupied the University Visitor Centre, to coincide with a visit day aimed at prospective students. Robbie, a student from Manchester Met said: “Free education is a right not a privilege and we showed our perseverance towards that goal today. We left peacefully after a few hours and my feeling of it was that we had a productive day and I’m pleased with all the work everyone put in to make it happen.”
See also: NCAFC’s live blog of the day.