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Why we occupy, our statement.

Defend Birmingham | 02.11.2011 23:59 | Education | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles | Birmingham

University of Birmingham Occupation: We have come together to discuss democratically alternatives to cuts, privatisation, we are debating what we believe and will publish our points here.

1. We are having this general assembly because we believe in the principal of public education. We believe that education has many public benefits that are missed by the government.

2. We are in a set of corporate meeting rooms that offers nothing to teaching students or research to demonstrate the way that education and universities are being sabotaged in the interests of private profit. We have been told by the university “you are not disrupting anything because we don’t have any customers in today”.

this went up at 14:57

update 14:50

3. Education is a right, it is the single greatest means of social mobility in the UK, we must protect it. Public universities have a social mission, contributing to the amelioration of social inequality and the promotion of social mobility. Private institutions run for profit don’t care about social mobility, universities are becoming increasingly inaccessible.

update of demands 14:55

4. Education and Knowledge are necessary parts of a healthy democracy and a healthy society. Academics and students must have the intellectual freedom and independence to encourage and take part in public debate. The privatisation of universities takes the creation of knowledge and the control of public debate out of the hands of the accountable public institutions and gives them to the unaccountable private sector.

5. We won’t win if we don’t fight: we must demonstrate, strike, ocuppy. Everyone who cares about education and public services should take actions, occupying there universities, demonstrating on november 9th and striking on November 30th.

update 15.05

7. Public higher education is part of a generational contract in which an older generation invests in the wellbeing of future generations that will support them in turn. Our generation is being doubly impacted by the burdens of huge public and private debts.

update 15.29 – There is second assembly happening – students in another room who have occupied but got split up when we can in, these are their demands:

1 – accommodation- to be made more affordable
Transparency on use of this money
2- give students/ lecturers capacity to say how uni is run – meetings should be minuted and made available lecturers and staff be given right to openly criticize uni openly

3- make postgrad/ undergrad fees more affordable , particularly below a 5 thousand pound mark to avoid an elitist culture forming

4 – staff and student pay improvements within reason a reduction in management pay. and some consultation with students on this matter, all pay should also rise with the rate of inflation.

(smaller point) no spending on movement of library movement and focus on increasing availability of resources like E journals

5- ensure that people from disadvantaged backgrounds do not become disadvantaged in the new fees climate

6- raise awareness of cut jobs and attempt to support these people in any way possible.

7 – power should lye with the people who care about education and not those who are attempting to profit from it

new statement from occupation 16.04

7. What is happening to education concerns us all, we must all sit up pay attention, think for ourselves and reclaim our futures.

update 16.18

8. The students in the occupation feel particularly aggrieved about the private sector-style pay rises received by the managers at the university. Last year the Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood received an 11% pay rise increasing his pay to £392,000. The money the University saved by closing the entire department of sociology was blown in one year on management pay rises.

Photographs by Jonathan Melhuish, released under Creative Commons By Attribution (= free for any use, please credit the photographer)

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