Over 300 students from the University of Manchester yesterday organised an occupation of the Arthur Lewis Building on their campus after being confronted by police. The Arthur Lewis Building costing millions of pounds was an example of the university’s commitment to big business over the needs and interests of students.
Police attempted to stop students protesting before the occupation but instead were forced to seal off the area using a special riot unit. The occupation ended yesterday at 6pm after police allowed students to leave. However students held a 3 1/2 hour meeting to discuss their demands against fees and for quality education.
Students in University of Manchester had complained of libraries not having up to date textbooks and a lack of student facilities, issues that students in Northern Ireland know all too well.
Socialist Students (the sister organisation of the Socialist Society in England and Wales) were involved in the protest and were arguing for the complete abolition of all fees and the implementation of a living grant for all students. Tomorrow (Thurs 24th April) Socialist Students are organising a meeting on the future of education to co-incide with the Teacher’s and Lecturer’s strike.
This protest shows how a fighting leadership of Student Union’s can give an important fight back against the effects of fees. A united campaign involving fighting student’s across England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as education workers could force the government to scrap fees.
For footage of the occupation you can visit:
The demands of the student occupation:
- The President / VC will write a monthly column about the goings for the UMSU newspaper Student Direct, that will also be published on the UMSU website.
- The President / VC will also be interviewed by Student Direct, using questions sent in by students, once a semester.
- The current public Q&A session that the President / VC takes part in once a semester will be publicised to staff and students by the University. All staff are welcome to attend.
- Students and Staff must have representation on all steering panels, including Building Design. Staff and Student must have input into the selection of the new President / VC.
- All first-year Course Welcoming lectures must include a talk on avenues of student participation in University decision-making processes and explain what the “2015 Vision” and “Capital Plan” will mean practically-i.e. building plans; department moving plans; axing of course module options.
- A minimum cap of 12 hours per week must be introduced for face-to-face contact hours. Courses with more contact time must not use this as a reason to cut hours.
- Online and Distance Learning are only to supplement this cap-they are not a substitute for contact time. Core modules must have non-online learning alternative options so as to be accessible to all students.
- The Personal Tutor system should ensure that all students have a one-to-one contact at University. Students must have good access to health and disability support staff.
- The university ends staff cut-backs now. No dependence on Temporarily Contracted Staff.
- Stop investment in and from unethical industries, including the arms trade. Investments must be made transparent and open to Staff/Student discussion. The Freedom of Information Act must be respected.
- The resources of recently closed libraries must be re-instated. In future, new library buildings should be built before the old ones are closed.
- Increase in use of University-based talent, such as in-sourcing from the Architecture Department. This increases Student participation in University decision making.
- The University will join students and staff in our fight for a free education. The President / VC will be open in their support for a free education.
For more informartion visit www.socialiststudents.org.uk