Student occupations expected to increase

Sit-ins at sites including Oxford, Manchester and Edinburgh gather pace ahead of next national day of action

Martin Wainwright
Sunday 28 November 2010 18.31 GMT

Students across the country continue to protest against planned education cuts and a rise in tuition fees. Photograph: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian

Linked by Twitter, mobiles and old-fashioned printed flyers, 15 student occupations continued over the weekend and are set to grow before the national day of action on Tuesday

Part of the Bodleian library at Oxford, a major lecture theatre at Manchester and Appleton Tower at Edinburgh are among sites taken over for good-natured and inventive protests against the planned university fees rise and education cuts.

Art exhibitions, debates and invitations to local people to meet and discuss the issues are part of the activities at the sites, which also include Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Plymouth and London. Edinburgh students called on outside supporters to stage snowball fights in solidarity, while Oxford’s Facebook page features support from sympathisers, but also anger from English and theology students unable to get hold of books and data for this week’s essays.

The sit-ins and sleepovers are likely to increase between regular days of action, to maintain a high profile for the protest movement and allow time for discussions. Most of the occupying groups sent representatives today to a national planning meeting at London University, which discussed future steps in the campaign.

Jamie Woodcock, a Manchester university student, said: “These are outward-looking actions, engaging with as many people as possible, rather than staying inside and being simply disruptive.”

The huge arsenal of simple communication systems has already given the protests much greater engagement with outsiders than the last significant student action in the late 1960s.

University management were cautiously sympathetic to most protests, although no one was allowed to enter many of the occupied buildings over the weekend. Food supplies were turned away and heating switched off, but the occupiers have been generally well-prepared by taking in ample supplies, bedding and warm clothes.

The protests are centred on the government’s plan to allow tuition fees of up to £9,000 a term while making cuts of up to 80% in university teaching budgets. School students have added energy to the actions in protest over plans to end the £30-a-week educational maintenance allowance for 16-19-year-olds from low-income families, which helps them continue to higher education.



~ by jonathanure on November 29, 2010.

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