Occupy to support your staff.

Occupy Edinburgh University

We are now occupying Appleton Tower, in support of the UCU strike on Wednesday November 30, against the moves of the government to privatise higher education and in defence of the principle that education is a public, social good which should be free for all.

We are currently in the middle of the most aggressive attack on the notion of public education in any of our lifetimes. The White Paper being introduced by the government in Westminster will lead to for-profit institutions, a stratification of our university system and the reinforcing of social barriers. The plans are economically illiterate and will have disastrous effects on the system of higher education in the UK.

We stand in solidarity with student occupations across the UK. In Birmingham students have been blockaded without food and water, threatened with legal action and, unbelievably, even physically assaulted by security. We realise that in Scotland we remain sheltered from some of these effects. But as with the introduction of £9000/year tuition fees in England, which have led directly to the rest of UK fees at our university increasing to £36000 for 4 years, changes in the funding and organisation of universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will affect what happens here. That tuition fees, directly or deferred in the form of a graduate tax, have not been reintroduced for Scottish students is testament to the anger and action shown by students in Scotland last year. If we wish to defend our system and move towards a genuinely egalitarian position – where students are supported through their degrees, courses and staff are properly funded and no one is priced out of education – we must make a stand now.

We aim to  persuade staff and students that education does not have to be considered as a commodity to be traded for profit but is instead a public good which benefits all of society. That education is not simply a means to future employment but has intrinsic worth in itself. That universities do not have to be run as if they were a private business, but can be democratically controlled by their staff and students.

Next week lecturers, librarians, IT staff and others will be on strike as part of the largest coordinated action undertaken in generations.  We will be standing with them on their picket lines, supporting them in their struggle for a decent pension and the ability to retire in dignity. Their struggle is ours. If unions lose their fight, we will suffer when we come to start pensions of our own on leaving university.

We call on all students to support their staff, to refuse to cross picket lines and work from home or join us on the pickets. Pickets are not just for show; they are not symbolic nor are they just another way to express your unhappiness. They are a weapon – the only weapon workers often have to balance the relation of power between themselves and their employers. To cross a picket line is to undermine a strike. If you support the aims of the staff you must refuse to cross.

Our occupation is to defend education and our university. We do not intend or expect to disrupt teaching and hope that the university will not choose to cancel or move lectures or events happening in Appleton.

We invite all students and staff at Edinburgh University to visit our occupation and to join us. We hope that you will.

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Party Against Privilege!

See history being made?
http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/chancellor-160911
Princess Anne is being inaugurated as the new chancellor of Edinburgh University at 1.30pm on the 26th of September in an outrageous celebration of wealth and privilege.


The Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Coalition believes that education should be free and publicly funded, that students should have enough money to live on, and that universities should be run for the good of society and not for private profit.

The University of Edinburgh’s recent decision to make Princess Anne our Chancellor, to represent the university to the rest of the world, stands completely at odds with these values.

Princess Anne has no connection to education. She is a symbol of unelected, unaccountable power. She is a relic of an age where education was the domain of a privileged elite.
Further to this, the decision was made entirely undemocratically. The Chancellor is supposed to be elected by former students but the University management rigged the election to ensure that she was unopposed.

At a time when students are being hit with colossal fees, the University has chosen to spend thousands of pounds on a celebration of privilege.

The Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Coalition call on students, lecturers, workers, jugglers, dancers, cyclists and clowns to join us in a Party Against Privilege.

While the University celebrate the out-dated values of a wealthy elite we will reclaim the streets and party in the name of democracy, equality and solidarity.

There will be:
Food Not Bombs
Live Music
Dancing
Soundsystems
Juggling
Clowns
Drummers
Theatre
Reclaim The Streets

Print off flyers and get the word out:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B78IvcCwU8EeZTQ1M2ZjMWUtM2U4MS00M2U4LTliZWEtODExN2ZkMmRiNDBi&hl=en

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B78IvcCwU8EeN2Y4ZGQ2YTAtMzJkMy00MDE3LWE5MTAtNzkwZTI4NzE1MjI3&hl=en

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B78IvcCwU8EeZWJjMGI1YWYtYzg3OC00MGU0LThjMjYtMzhiZTNiMzc1MGRm&hl=en_GB

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=249751498402951

Join us!

Party Against Privilege!

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Student Occupiers Launch New Year of Student Action

Student Occupiers Launch New Year of Student Action

About 100 students [1] from across Scotland occupying an Edinburgh University lecture theatre this weekend promise to disrupt management at Scottish universities with an ongoing campaign of targeted 36 hour occupations. Edinburgh is one of two institutions set to fix fees at the most expensive rate in the UK for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Robin Parker, NUS Scotland President in supporting the occupation said “It’s absolutely no surprise that Edinburgh University students are incredibly angry about their university’s decision to cash in on English, Welsh and Northern Irish students. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those opposing £36,000 fees for students from the rest of the UK.” [2]

The University is still refusing to provide occupiers freedom of access. With supplies, including a large donation of curry from the Edinburgh Central Mosque, being hoisted into the building with ropes.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, who organised the student protests outside the Houses of Parliament in December, is planning similar actions across the UK in the coming months, building up to a demonstration in Westminster on the 9th of November. [3]

Naomi Beecroft, a University of Edinburgh second year Linguistics student said “We aim as much as possible to disrupt management. They have refused to undertake an adequately broad student consultation on a decision that could prove to have disastrous consequences for our university. We aim to avoid any disruption to teaching.”

Patrick O’Hare, President of St Andrews University Students’ Association who was taking part in the occupation said: “The occupation is a courageous move in solidarity with future generations of RUK students who will be priced out the market or saddled with tremendous debts.”

“The increases at St Andrews and Edinburgh are especially abhorrent and not justified by the bursaries packages which will reach a comparatively small number of students. In St Andrews, the amount cut from the RUK teaching grant was around £3,323 per student, so fees of £9,000 are more than an attempt to cover that loss. Both Principals and the Scottish Government should take their share of the blame; Principals for charging above the advised rate, and the Scottish Government for introducing Tory policies for RUK students. These fees are a betrayal of future generations of RUK students, and students and their representatives will continue to oppose them” [4]

Amy Westwell, a Glasgow University student, said: “In Scotland, we take great pride in our universities, for their excellence and accessibility.” “The extent to which fees have been raised is disproportionate to the financial needs of universities, this move undermines the values of the Scottish education system.”

A University of Edinburgh spokesman said: “The university attaches great importance to freedom of speech as long as points of view are put across in a safe and lawful way.” [5]

The university is still refusing to turn on the heating.

[1] BBC News – Protest students occupy Edinburgh University hall – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-14950251

[2] NUS Scotland supports Edinburgh University occupation – http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/33782/2671/

[3] The Guardian – Students plan fresh wave of protests in November – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/sep/16/students-plan-fresh-protests

[4] University of St Andrews Students’ Association Support for Edinburgh University Fees Occupation – http://www.yourunion.net/studentvoice/news/index.php?page=article&news_id=272453

[5] The Scotsman – Student protesters demand action in tuition fees sit-in – http://www.scotsman.com/news/Student-protesters-demand-action-in.6837981.jp

See also:

The Scotsman – The Siege of Edinburgh University – http://www.scotsman.com/news/The-siege-of-Edinburgh-University.6837804.jp?articlepage=2

STV Edinburgh – Students take over lecture theatre in protest over fees – http://local.stv.tv/edinburgh/news/270538-students-take-over-lecture-theatre-in-protest-over-fees/

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Our Demands!

We demand immediately from Edinburgh University:

  • Freedom of access
  • No legal or academic repercussions for anyone involved

We demand of the Scottish government and Scottish Universities:

  • Withdrawal of the proposed 36k fees at Edinburgh University
  • Withdrawal of all fee rises at other Scottish Universities, and no future proposals without meaningful student consultation.
  • That they uphold the basic principle, inherent in the Scottish education system, of free education for all.
  • Scotland should actively oppose Westminster policies challenging that principle.
  • An explicit rejection of any future proposals that seek to change the status of Scottish Universities from public educational institutions to privately funded enterprises.
  • No privatisation of education and no privately funded courses.
  • No cuts to courses or compulsory redundancies in Scottish universities.
  • Full and open consultation between management, staff and students concerning fees.
  • A living wage for all workers at Scottish universities including those subcontracted.
  • University senior management must take the average salary of university staff, or resign.
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Students occupy against 36k fees

Students from universities across Scotland are staging an occupation of an Edinburgh University lecture theatre in protest against significant increases in fees for ‘Rest of UK’ students.
Scottish university students, from Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews occupied the George Square Lecture Theatre at 1pm today (Friday 16th Sep) and will remain in occupation until they have entered into constructive dialogue with decision-making bodies.
Mike Shaw, an Edinburgh University student, said, “We will remain in occupation until our demands of Edinburgh University and Holyrood are met”
Amy Westwell, a Glasgow University student added, “In Scotland, we take great pride in our universities, for their excellence and accessibility. The extent to which fees have been raised is disproportionate to the financial needs of universities: this move undermines the values of the Scottish education system.”
Edinburgh University announced on the 5th of September that fees would increase from £1820 to £9000 for RUK students. St Andrews University have also set fees at the maximum threshold, and other Scottish Universities are expected to drastically increase tuition fees. There have been numerous student protests over the past year, including the occupation of Glasgow University’s Hetherington Research Club: the longest running student occupation in UK history.

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Edinburgh students occupy to support striking lecturers!

A group of over 50 students are currently occupying the Human Resources department in Charles Stewart Building on Chambers Street.

We are currently (2pm) meeting with a head of the Human Resources department.

Please see the previous blog post for more info on the UCU pensions dispute, and our position.

Edinburgh students occupy to support striking lecturers

Image below from article abov, courtesy of Ben Wray.

We have presented these demands to the HR department:

We , the concerned students currently occupying Charles Stewart Building, call on the HR department to do the following:

1. Issue a public statement calling on employers to reenter into negotiations with UCU, through ACAS.
2. Lobby Universities Scotland to do the same as the above.
3. Allow UCU to send an unedited email to all students and staff, in relation to the industrial action.
4. Stop using the rhetoric of students’ interests to attempt to create divisions inside the University over the issue.

In solidarity,

Concerned students of Edinburgh

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“Would I Give My House to Save a Banker?” – Student solidarity with lecturers on strike!

The University and College Union (UCU), the recognised trade union for lecturers and academic support staff at Edinburgh University, have balloted to strike on Thursday the 17th (Scotland only) and Thursday the 24th (UK-wide) of March over regressive changes to the USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pension plan.

Students from Edinburgh University Anti-Cuts Coalition (EUACC) will be joining lecturers on their picket lines in solidarity.

We are a large group of students campaigning against cuts, through direct action and the lobbying of Edinburgh University management and Scottish parliamentarians, with our primary focus being on education cuts. Alongside informing fellow students and the public on the impact cuts will have locally and nationally, alongside possible alternatives.

Edinburgh students have also been heavily involved with UKuncut

We are calling for our fellow students to email their lecturers in support, to boycott classes on the day and to join lecturers on the picket lines. Alongside informing students on the reasons behind the dispute.

A rally has been called by UCU Edinburgh in Bristo Square at midday on Thursday. We have planned further action for the day. (See media contacts and Twitter below for updates on the day)

The strike on the 17th will coincide with strikes at 7 other Scottish Universities over the same dispute. [1]

The following Thursday, the 24th, Edinburgh UCU members will strike again alongside 62 other institutions across the UK unless management re-engage in negotiations. [2]

These changes will cost lecturers at the start of their career more than £450,000 in total expected benefits and reduce their annual pension by nearly one-third whilst an existing scheme member aged under 55 in similar circumstances will see their total expected benefits fall by £150,000. [3]

CONTACTS

Media Contact: Mike Shaw 07540 248868

Logistics on Thursday: James McAsh 07812 751217

edinburghanticuts@gmail.com

https://edinunianticuts.wordpress.com

Twitter @EdinUniAntiCuts http://www.twitter.com/edinunianticuts

QUOTES

Tom Webster – History Lecturer – 07704 925162 – tom.webster [at] ed.ac.uk – member of staff willing to provide comment

Graham Kirkwood – UCU member – 07404 026565 – grahamkirkwood [at] hotmail.com – member of staff also willing to provide comment

Mike Williamson, Vice-President Academic Affairs elect of Edinburgh University Students’ Association [EUSA] said “In the long term the proposed pension plans will negatively affect the quality of lecturers attracted to the profession. A number of our postgraduates are UCU members, whilst many students will also be entering the sector after graduating. It is critical that we stand by our lecturers, and send a clear message to University management through supporting this strike.”

Mike Williamson’s phone number: 07917 356036

Jaye Ware, an Edinburgh University Sociology student, said “The proposed scheme will disproportionately affect women through punishing those taking career breaks. Further widening gender inequality in University staffing and pay.”

Mike Holmes, Edinburgh University UCU Pensions Officer said of the changes [In reference to £450,000 figures and £150,000 figures – see above]: “Those numbers neatly bracket the sorts of houses we all live in and, given what we’re all being asked to give up, it led me to the simple question “Would I Give My House to Save a Banker?”. I decided “Hell No!” and put my X on the form. I’ve paid for my pension, I value my pension, and I’ll be on the picket line on the 17th and 24th to defend my pension. If you feel at all the same way, please join me there.” [4]

ADDITIONAL LINKS + REFERENCES

Edinburgh student solidarity with university staff striking over pensions – Guardian Edinburgh

Support your lecturers! – Facebook event

UCU Edinburgh’s website – lots of information on the strike

[1] Threat of Strike action looms over eight Scottish universities – The Courier

[2] Lecturers in UK-wide strike over pensions – BBC News

[3] Letters between UCU general secretary Sally Hunt and Brian Cantor, chair of the Employers’ Pension Forum

[4] Would You Give Your House to Save a Banker? – Mike Holmes – UCU Edinburgh

Solidarity

Edinburgh University Anti-Cuts Coalition Media Team

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