LIVE BLOG: NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION

21:45: GOOD NIGHT! PRESS COVERAGE AND ROUNDUP FOR THE DAY OF ACTION

You can see our press release here.

Meanwhile, Warwick Free Education can be found here, and their protest tomorrow here.

And to keep in touch with the campuses still in occupation, check out Sheffield and Lancaster.

Expect more to come in the coming days, especially this Saturday!

21:31PM: SHEFFIELD STILL GOING STRONG

Sheffield occupation is still going strong.

“Staying in overnight! More events tomorrow, so stay tuned. The most valuable contribution is for people to come along and take part. Solidarity with all others that have taken part in fighting for a free and fair education today.”

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21:29PM: ARRESTEE SUPPORT IN COVENTRY

 

19:21PM: VIDEOS OF WARWICK POLICE VIOLENCE

Videos have been online for over an hour now and have spread around the internet very quickly.

 

19:12PM: WARWICK FREE EDUCATION STATEMENT AND BLOGPOST

Warwick University Free Education have put something out about today’s protests. You can read it in full here.

Here’s an extract:

At the peaceful sit-in at the bottom floor of senate house police were called and reacted with extreme, disproportionate and unprovoked violence. Several police cars turned up and a police riot van as well as a police dog. We formed a human chain but they broke through using CS spray (active agent in tear gas) on many activists at close quarters, a taser gun was held up and threatened, it was also suspected to be used. Activists were punched, pushed onto the floor, dragged, rammed by their throat into the wall and kneed in the face. We were staging a peaceful protest and it was totally unprecedented; we were sitting in a circle talking in university space. At least 20 students were assaulted by university security and police. Three arrests were made, please do arrestee support if you would so wish. They have been taken to Coventry central police station. THIS IS OUR UNIVERSITY! COPS OFF CAMPUS!

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19:11PM: NCAFC PRESS RELEASE

Read it in full here.

18:50 PM: WARWICK STUDENTS HAVE CALLED A #COPSOFFCAMPUS PROTEST FOR TOMORROW

Click here for the Fb event

18:19PM: LANCASTER OCCUPATION PRESS RELEASE

For the full thing, click here.

Here’s an extract from Lancaster Occupation’s press release, released at just before 6pm.

 At a time when students are already experiencing a severe crisis in living standards, whether it be in terms of stagnant pay, unaffordable housing costs, poor job prospects and mounting debts, the decision taken by the University’s managers to further extract money from hard pressed students is an absolute disgrace. Post graduate students are already facing severe issues in terms of funding their degrees, whilst a 5% increase in fees for International Students in material terms, with fluctuating currencies, could lead to some students facing an over 50% in fee costs. Paul Mason has spoken of the current generation of graduates being ones with “no future,” and if Management’s proposals were to go through, then the future awaiting currents students would indeed be financially bleak and insecure.

As an occupation, we have agreed upon [a list of 7] demands, which we put forward to Lancaster University Management.

We send solidarity to other university students currently engaged in direct action at their own campuses in opposition to both management and central government policies which work to impoverish and disenfranchise students and other members of their universities, and wish them well in their campaigns.
In solidarity,
Lancaster University House Occupation

17:54PM: SOME PHOTOS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA

You can see more of these on Defend Education UEA’s facebook page.

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17:52PM: MORE EVIDENCE OF CS SPRAY 

 

17:13PM: WARWICK UPDATE – AT LEAST 3 ARRESTS.

3 arrests and use of pepper spray and tasers confirmed. The use of these would be unprecedented in a campus protest situation (as far as we know).

If you want to contact anyone at Warwick for comment, call 07833446627

17:06PM: WARWICK OCCUPATION STORMED BY POLICE

Warwick occupation has been stormed by police. Reports are that police threatened protesters with CS spray and tasers.

16:34PM: BREAK

We’re going to be taking a short break now, but we’ll be back online soon. Keep tweeting on the #freeeducation hashtag and if you need urgent advice call someone using the ‘contact’ tab on our website (above).

16:32PM: WARWICK ARE DOING A SIT IN

15:44PM: HERE ARE LANCASTER’S OCCUPATION DEMANDS

  1. No rise in tuition fees or rent now or in the future.
  2. Transparency of finance. – where does the surplus go? – Participatory budgeting.
  3. Fair pay for staff.
  4. Maintenance of student bursaries and scholarships.
  5. Care leavers bursary.
  6. Mental health support and funding. – more counsellors. – better health services.
  7. More funding for student services.

 

15:36PM: LANCASTER ARE BEING DENIED ACCESS TO TOILETS

Lancaster University are denying occupiers access to toilets. Tweet at @LancasterUni to demand that they’re allowed them!

 

15:31PM: THE OCCUPATION OF UNIVERSITIES UK HAS ENDED

Students marched out at at about half past 3, chanting and singing. They are now marching round Bloomsbury.

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15:28PM:  GET READY FOR WARWICK

‘Cause they’re about to start their demo.

15:17PM: OCCUPATIONS HAVE STARTED GETTING MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY… FROM EACH OTHER

It’s the best kind of solidarity there is.

 

15:14PM: WE’RE STILL INSIDE UNIVERSITIES UK

The police have closed in, but occupiers still in high spirits. One protester comments:

“UCL activists managed to storm the two sets of doors. We are all buzzing but I reckon the popo will move in soon.”

14:57PM: STUFF IS HAPPENING AT SUSSEX UNI AFTER THEIR CAMPUS DEMO

Exactly what, we’re not sure. We’re finding out what’s happened now; in the meantime here’s a banner being painted for it this morning.

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14:51PM: ONGOING OCCUPATION AT KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

 

14:41PM: AND WE’VE GOT ACTION IN… CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge have started their day of action. Just a banner drop of a prelude to something more? We don’t know yet, so stay tuned.

14:35PM: MORE FROM MANCHESTER

14:30PM: STUDENTS STILL SITTING IN AT KCL

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14:19PM: LONDON IS COMING TO UUK – AND THEY’VE BROKEN IN

UCL have showed up at Universities UK. Another group of students subsequently swarmed into the lobby. The occupation is growing!

14:14PM: AND ANOTHER PICTURE FROM UUK

14:04PM: HERE’S A PICTURE FROM UCL FROM BEFORE. 

13:58PM: UNIVERSITIES UK OCCUPIED

Here’s a picture. The mood is good natured and there’s a band playing.

13:52PM: UNIVERSITIES UK HAS BEEN OCCUPIED, PRIMARILY BY SOAS STUDENTS

There is a live video from Russia Today happening here.

We’ll bring you more updates as we have them. Universities UK is the Vice Chancellors’ union – they’re basically like a gang of batman villains.

 

13:49AM: MORE SCENES FROM UCL – THEY’RE RUNNING ABOUT A BIT

13:34PM: MANCHESTER ARE IN OCCUPATION

13:25PM: IT’S “ON” AT KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

13:24PM: TALK OF “IMPROMPTU DIRECT ACTION” AT UCL

13:20PM: SCENES FROM LANCASTER

13:01PM: BATH ARE STILL BLOCKADING… OR AT LEAST MAKING A POINT

 12:59PM: MANCHESTER ARE MOBILISED ON CAMPUS

12:49pm: LANCASTER ARE IN OCCUPATION AS WELL

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12:46pm: HERE IS SHEFFIELD’S STATEMENT

This afternoon we have gone into occupation as part of a nationwide movement against tuition fees, and in favour of free education.

In the UK today we are forced to endure a system in which you are either put off higher education by the prospect of paying £9,000 fees a year,  or accept the burden of an amount of debt that you will likely never be able to pay off. We think that this is totally unacceptable and morally abhorrent, and argue that education is a universal human right that should not merely be reserved for the wealthy elite, or for those willing to sell themselves to the banks.

As such, we are issuing the following three demands to the management of the University of Sheffield:
1. Lobby the government to scrap tuition fees
2. Give all members of staff that are employed directly or indirectly by the university a living wage in line with the national standard (as set Loughborough University and the Living Wage Foundation)
3. Halt the privatisation of the services that maintain the university, and in particular the Students’ Union

In order to make this point, we have chosen to occupy the Inox Dine restaurant. Inox is designed purely to generate private profit, and is almost universally loathed (by those who know it exists). It is clear that Inox is not intended to improve the student experience; its prices are extortionate and it advertises business lunches and champagne, and yet for some reason it is located in the Students’ Union building. We can think of no place on campus that is more painfully representative of the neoliberal degradation of our university, and of education in general.

Rather than merely occupying this space, however, we intend to  regenerate it into what it should be, and transform it into a place of learning. For the duration of this occupation, let Inox Dine be known as the Free University of Sheffield. We will be opening up this space to students, academic and non-academic staff, and members of the public to come and take part in organising and attending workshops. These can be  anything from practical to academic, and political to apolitical, insofar as they conform to our dedication to providing an education that is non-hierarchical, collectively and directly democratically run, and universally safe and accessible. In doing so, we hope to prove, if only within a limited time and space, that education can be free, and much more equitably run.

If management seek to destroy this occupation, let all bear witness to the fact that they have nothing to do with the genuine provision of education, and are instead its plunderers.

You are warmly invited to join us!

Solidarity to all who believe in an education that is free and fair.

The Free University of Sheffield.

 

12:30 PM: SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY IS OCCUPIED
09:00 AM BATH UNI STUDENTS HAVE BLOCKADED THEIR UNIVERSITY

6:00 AM CAMEBRIDGE LEFT THEIR MESSAGE OUTSIDE BIS

Here is their statement:

n the early hours of Wednesday, December 3rd, a group of us entered the site of Eastbrook House, an office complex on the outskirts of Cambridge which houses the East Office of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and defaced the front of the building with slogans such as ‘education: not your business’.

We did this in solidarity with those taking part in today’s day of walkouts, occupations and demonstrations. This is part of the ongoing campaign for free education. At the National Demonstration for Free Education on November 19th, several people were beaten and arrested by police thugs outside London’s BIS office.  One protester was denied treatment for his injuries in custody and was hospitalised immediately upon release.

In targeting BIS we are attacking both state and private control over education. BIS is the state department responsible for managing higher education, regulating business and ‘maintaining economic competition’. That these responsibilities are lumped together epitomizes the increasing control business has over education. Cambridge is a city dominated by the University, a symbol of power and privilege for centuries, which is in turn increasingly dominated by multinational corporations. This takes the form of corporate sponsorship of courses and funding agreements that prioritize profit for the few over education for the many.

We do not merely seek a return to education prior to the introduction of fees. We demand an education that is free both financially and in the sense that it is democratically controlled by those who participate in it and is accessible to all, not just a privileged few.

Recent years have shown that voting and peaceful demonstrations have failed. We have been ignored, lied to, kettled and beaten. This confirms the need for more direct tactics, of which tonight’s action was a small part.

 

CHECK OUT OUR PRESS RELEASE FOR THE DAY:

Contact: 07749263622, 07891714146, 07989235178, 07821731481,

  • Around 20 campuses mobilise for day of action for free education
  • Occupations, blockades and local protests take place on same day as the autumn statement
  • Further localised action expected on Saturday 6th December

Today, students across the country are taking part in a day of action for free education while the government delivers another round of cuts and austerity in parliament.

UPDATE: SEE OUR LIVE BLOG FOR ROLLING COVERAGE.

By 8.30am, Cambridge students had already defaced the front of the local Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the University of Bath was blockaded by students. Many more actions and marches are expected in Lancaster, Manchester, UCL, SOAS, Birmingham, Sussex, Royal Holloway, Warwick, Gloustershire, Sheffield and many others.

The day of action is called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) as part of a campaign of protest and direct action this autumn. On November 19th, 10,000 students marched on parliament in the biggest demonstration of its kind since 2010. On December 6th, local protests will happen again, aiming to bring communities and workers into the fight for free education.

Deborah Hermanns, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “Today’s actions are part of the development of a mass and concerted campaign for free education. We are witnessing a resurgence of student activism, not just against tuition fees but for an alternative vision for education – which is democratic, public and accessible to everyone. The only way we are going to win this is through direct action.”

Callum Cant, from Warwick University Free Education Campaign and NCAFC, said: “Across the higher and further education sectors, managers – especially in the Russell Group – are backing fees, cuts and privatisation. Today we are making the point that that is not representative of anyone, and we are demanding that management recognise the democratic will of students and staff: for free education.”

Hattie Craig, from Birmingham Defend Education and NCAFC, said: “We are protesting today because the only way that students, workers and ordinary people can have an impact is by taking direct action. This Saturday, Birmingham, Warwick, Loughborough, Nottingham and Leicester will be holding a joint regional demo for free education, and there will be marches all over the country, bringing in local workers and communities. Free education is not a ‘student issue’ – it is for everyone.”

Notes

  1.  NCAFC is a democratic coalition of students and workers fighting for free education and against fees, cuts and privatisation in education. It has 600-700 members and has existed since 2010

  2. The facebook event for the Wednesday December 6th local marches and rallies is here.

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