Thank you for your letter of the 17th of November 2011, revoking my “right” to be on campus. Unfortunately I cannot abide by the ban and I regret to inform you that I have already returned to campus. I feel I have a duty to stand up for freedom of speech particular on university campuses which supposedly bastions of debate. Earlier today I did a announcement in a lecture and despite the lecturer knowing full well who I was and the ban you seek to impose they were quite happy to let me continue.
I appreciate your concern for the “disruption” to student’s education; it would be nice if the university actions matched its words. My announcements at the start of lectures are not disruptive and always have the full approval of the lecturers running the class. The real threat of disruption to education at the University of Birmingham is the £10 million pounds worth of cuts and 200 job losses that yourself and the other university mangers are pushing on us, not to mention the disruption caused by raising the university hall fees, which has caused immense stress to students. The continued hikes in undergraduate and postgraduate tuition fees are not only going to disrupt people’s education but, completely deny them the opportunity to come to a university like the University of Birmingham.
Many hundreds of young people have been denied the opportunity of a good education due to the university’s total failure to meet its own targets in making the university accessible. In 2005 the university made a pledge to the Office of Fair Access, promising it would raise the number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds attending the university from 125 students per annum to 500 students per annum, in time for the £3000 pound fee hike. However, 6 years later, and with fees now going to £9000 pounds, the university has failed to recruit more than 200 students a year from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
I am happy to stop campaigning on campus, if the university agrees to stand up to this continued disruption to education and people’s lives.
By pledging to undertake these seven steps:
1. To publicly condemn the White Paper and call for it to be withdrawn
2. To guarantee no course closures
3. To guarantee no job cuts and no adverse changes to staff terms and conditions
4. To provide bursaries for all students who need them – not fee waivers
5. To guarantee no cuts to library, student support or learning resources
6. To guarantee no cuts to access schemes or foundation courses
7. To guarantee that the university will remain a public and a not-for-profit body.
All the best
Vice president of Education (in exile) University of Birmingham Guild of Students