Response to the University of Birmingham with regards to our Occupation: Reinventing our University.

Earlier today we were told we are already facing disciplinary action and would have to pay the “substantial” cost of the university’s legal fees for an injunction they will take out against us if we do not leave by 9am tomorrow. The threat to the university and the system of public education is so grave that we are more afraid of the risks posed to society at large than our own immediate future. As such we have resolved to stay. We believe that students nationally must take action to defend education, despite the risks.

As we previously declared UoB students occupied a completely unused space on campus in order to educate people about the white paper and to start a dialogue about whether the university’s planned course of action was in the best interest of students, staff and education. The university’s action against us has shown how misplaced their priorities are and how far they’re willing to go to suppress dissent.

The university’s justification for its disproportionate response is that it “needs to preserve its assets.” They view an unused wasted building as an asset but preserving our futures to be a liability. Our occupation doesn’t disrupt the functioning of the university in any way; it recycles an unused building for the purpose of education.  The university’s response was to summon, at its height: five police, ten security and three senior managers; six security are deployed 24 hours a day to make sure that no-one is allowed access to the occupation and to detain any who leave.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy and solidarity to the dozens of universities also taking part in this struggle for the future of our universities. Also, we would also like to thanks the Occupy movement and the thousands of people who are following our blog.

The university is not acting against us because we are being unreasonable or because we are disrupting its functions but because they have a mafia mentality that makes them meet any sign of dissent with disproportionate force.  The only way we can respond to their threats is by a show of strength not by capitulation.  We wanted to consult widely with the student body in order to come up with a series of goals and demands but for obvious reasons this has not been possible. We therefore issued the following statement to the university. We will vacate the premises of this building if the university signs the VC pledge…

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 public, and a not-for-profit body.

8. And does not victimise those who have taken part in the occupation. 

The university can afford to pay for all these things however it is choosing to invest in pointless prettification of the campus instead of defending education.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Response to the University of Birmingham with regards to our Occupation: Reinventing our University.

  1. Pingback: In Occupation, this post is updated live. | Defend Birmingham

  2. david mcadam

    keep your spirits up best wishes from up north in newcastle

  3. ex brum

    The University are behaving like idiots but your demands are unreasonable and frankly slightly self centred. There is a funding crisis in higher education. If graduate contributions are not introduced some combination of the following will happen:
    1. Quality will drop and British universities will attract less foreign students, less top academic staff and less investment and sponsorship from industry. Hence even less money to go round. America will win.
    2. There will be less places at university available. Uni will become almost exclusively the preserve of the middle classes. The majority of those unable to get places will come from poorer backgrounds. Sure there will be a few brilliant/lucky poor kids but for most uni will become like it was in the past- a foreign land.
    3. Funding will be taken from the NHS, primary and secondary education, social care etc etc.

    It is not unreasonable for financially successful graduates to pay more. Why don’t you concentrate on trying to get the max fee reduced down to 6 k instead of wanting it all and ending up with nothing.

  4. Nathan Woodward

    solidarity. hope you’re all alright.

    eb, there’s nothing unreasonable about the demands. it’s not like theres no money to be had. Theres money enough to write off billions of pounds of taxes for the likes of vodafone, for bankers to enjoy obscene bonuses paid for by public money, for nuclear weapons, for imperialist wars abroad… but apparently no money for ordinary people to have an education system and a welfare state. theres money there, but instead of taking it from where it’s plentiful, i.e. from themselves and their rich mates, the bastards in power are intent on making us pay for their crisis. And we’re not going to win by making our arguments on their terms.

  5. If I remember correctly the gatehouse at the carpark is not a large building so in all truefulness probably cant really be changed to be used by students in any real way. Now you could argue that the uni could knock it down and prehaps create more car parking space etc, but you will probably find that it is a listed building so cant so in the end it is an abandoned building that shall always remain abandoned.

    I agree mostly with ex brum, however there is an agruement that says that we need fewer people at uni, this then helps out graduates as there are fewer people competing for the same jobs and the governemnt could end up affording to pay for uni.

    To be honest I have aways been in favour of the rise in fees, especially as we have the 2nd best uni education in the world, after america, however the government did go about it in the wrong way. Yhey said they wanted more Science, technology, engineering, maths and medical students, (STEMs), what they should have done was keep the STEM subjects at 3000 or even make them free but put up the arts subjects (history, art, music, english etc) which have a lot of graduartes but not much in ways of job prospects to discourage people from taking this ones

  6. Mike

    I find it interesting that ‘ex-brum’ is claiming these demands are selfish because unless fees are introduced “..uni will become almost exclusively the preserve of the middle classes”. This is to turn reality on it’s head, introducing fees is doing exactly that. Black is white, and white is black🙂

    • ex brum

      No Mike because there is one important provisio attached to the fees that people like you refuse to acknowledge. You only pay the fee if you are earning above 21 k per year. If this provisio were not there I would protest just as passionately as you.

      There is a big difference between the proposed system and a free market system. There is no reason in principle why anyone ought to be priced out.

  7. not supporting you

    I don’t have a degree because I preferred to drop out and take up a graduete entry-level job that I’d managed to get based on my skills and aptitude alone. I am however shouldered with a lot of student loan to pay off, with nothing to show for it. Despite this, I believe students should be paying for their own post-18 education and that fewer people should go to university. Get on with your assignments or get a job. I do hope none of the protesting or rioting students we’ve seen in the news this year are planning careers in PR – you’re really not doing yourself any favours at all in the eyes of most of the British public.

    I got to this blog via the live feed from the North Gate “occupation” and it’s incredibly unfair (and damn arrogant) of you to blank out your own faces yet display the faces of police officers and other personnel who are just doing their job.

  8. what is the link not supporting you

  9. Pingback: In Occupation, this post is updated live | Defend Education Birmingham

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