Skip navigation

Indymedia UK is a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues

Your Education is Being Sold: Occupy the Academy!

IMC uk features | 24.11.2011 20:41 | Occupy Everywhere | Education | Birmingham

Students have once again begun a round of occupations on university campuses, this time in solidarity with the N30 day of action, and in opposition to the White Paper on Higher Education which will give the private sector almost complete control over higher education and knowledge production.

Update: Friday 25/11: The occupation of the north gate ended last night after Birmingham University gained an immediate interim possession order. There is another occupation planned today where protestors will be doing a 'run for their money'.

At Birmingham University, students have squatted an abandoned gate house on campus. Earlier this month they also occupied the University's Corporate Convention Centre. With scenes reminiscent of the 2009 occupation in solidarity with Gaza, the University attempted to deny occupiers essential supplies of food and water. In the early hours of the morning a crowd formed in solidarity with the occupiers and they managed to get past security and deliver some vital food supplies. Since then the occupiers have had a rough night and have been subjected to violence and harrasement from the University's security. At a former occupation of the University's 'Physics Bridge' a similar assault occurred. The occupiers have responded with a statement condemning the repression and victimisation. They have pointed out that the University's plans to 'prettify' the campus and it's intention to cut courses, jobs, access schemes and bursaries are completely at odds with defending universal access to education.

University occupations have also started In Edinburgh, Warwick, York, London and Cambridge. In the USA UC Davis students have been subjected to repression as they struggle against increased tuition fees and police brutality on campus. [More]

From the newswires:
'No platform for filth' | Analysis of the white paper | Rough night for Birmingham occupiers | David Willetts Silenced | St. Andrews in Third Occupation | New site occupied in Bloomsbury

Also on Thursday, Cambridge students occupied the Lady Mitchell Hall 'in opposition to the White Paper on Higher Education, and in support of the strike on November 30th and the worldwide Occupy movement'. A day earlier sudents had prevented David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, from delivering a lecture on ‘The Idea of the University’ at the same venue. During a speech given after Willets had left the hall, a student said:

“Those who think that letting the talk go ahead would have influenced the debate on higher education are misguided. We have marched for a year, been kettled repeatedly and threatened with rubber bullets. Willetts has made up his mind; he is not for turning. That is why we shut him down.”

On Friday,students, workers and residents in London, occupied a disused university building in Bloomsbury, which they have opened as the Bloomsbury Social Centre. The building had lain empty for three years and recently the University of London announced that it would be developed as a post-graduate centre. The top floor is to be turned into an apartment for the new dean of post-graduate studies. In a statement the occupiers said:

We don’t need any more luxury apartments, any more than we need new senior managers to live in them. The Bloomsbury Social Centre will instead be a real community resource: the material instrument required to build for the November 30th strike. Students, workers and local people are all invited to use it.

Goldsmiths College students also went into occupation stating that:

We reject the privatisation and marketisation of life, and the violent transfer of public wealth into private hands. We stand with all those afflicted by this vile agenda and against those who profit from this enforced misery.

Other university occupations were reported at Edinburgh, Warwick and York.

In the USA earlier in the week, students at UC Davis, who had gathered to protest against tuition fees and police brutality on campus, were pepper sprayed [Video whilst they linked arms and attempted to defend the tents they had set up. The previous week had seen students pitch tents in the air as an act of defiance after a police order banning them from pitching tents on the ground.

IMC uk features