One Week of Occupation!

Today marks the 7th day of occupation!

In just over a week, Westminster votes on the cuts and fee rises in the rest of the UK. Scotland’s policy will be massively affected by this vote. The Liberal Democrats are crumbling. Abstaining is not good enough. This must not pass.

We continue to receive messages of solidarity from across the globe, people from every background have been standing by us: We value education as a public good.

Today we also received solidarity from Ken Loach, highly respected, multi-award winning, visionary director! (Our words! And he’s offered to send as many films as we want!).

The atmosphere in Edinburgh is great as the momentum continues to grow nationally!

We now have over 800 followers on Twitter, it won’t be long before we reach 1000!

And nationally there are 17 occupations! How long before we reach 20?

But we have to move from our current space on Friday as exams are being set up. We need suggestions for what to do next, will you join us in these crucial days?

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Our Full Response

We have now sent a letter of reply to University Secretary Dr Kim Waldon, as a furthering of our negotiations.

Open Letter in response to statement issued 29th November 2010

Dr. Waldron,

We appreciate the response to our previous communication, and in the spirit of transparency mentioned, we request clarification on a number of issues. We also have a list of motions that we have agreed on, presented in a similar format to those of a EUSA assembly. The outcomes of these motions will require continued contact with the members of the occupation, who will be represented in the event of the ending of the occupation by the Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Coalition. We can confirm that we will not stay beyond Monday the 5th of December, as this is the start of exams in the Appleton Tower. We cordially request a reply by 5pm Thursday 2nd, and apologise for the time taken to formulate our response. It is not our anticipation that the outcomes of the motions will be answerable in the course of two days; we prioritise a response to our questions. We understand that it is not feasible to obtain official opinions from the University of Edinburgh as a body, so we have phrased what we believe to be realistic questions in a categorical format to which we would greatly appreciate a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, followed by some context and clarification if appropriate. We are gratified by the engagement of the senior management of the university and await a response.


Edinburgh University Occupation


1. Does the university expect its budget to be reduced next year? If so, by how much?

2. Is the University able to confirm that budgetary projections will not include a reduction in the number of any of the following in the next three years:

*contact hours
*teaching staff
*non-teaching staff
*degrees on offer
*schools and departments in the University
*resources for staff and student welfare services

3. Are there plans for a change in the ratio of scholarships from private, university and corporate sources?

4. Is there a cap or limit on the number of corporate scholarships disbursed by the University?

5. Does the University officially (in terms of policy) recognise representation from student or staff groups outwith EUSA or staff unions, on issues affecting the entire student or staff body?

6. Is it an official position of a representative of the University that the UK parliament’s ‘cuts and fees’ package will adversely affect students from disadvantaged backgrounds?

7. If future cuts by the Scottish government to tertiary education include an element of prioritisation (much as the UK proposals prioritise sciences over arts and humanities), is the University able to compensate for this in any way?

8. If the answer to the previous question is ‘yes’, are there current University plans to compensate for potential differential funding decisions?

9. Is there a current University policy on the ratio of Scottish, UK, EU and non-EU students?

10. Is there a University policy to solicit a greater number of students that pay fees (i.e. not full-time Scottish or EU students) in the next ten years?


1. We note that the University’s preferred means of receiving student representation is through EUSA. We also note that EUSA does not have the ability to contact its members either at will or without review by the University. We believe that a representative body’s democratic mandate relies on its ability to have unfettered two-way contact with all of its members. We also believe that EUSA’s members and elected officials are capable of deciding the frequency and appropriate content of any such correspondence. We move to demand that the University allow EUSA access to the email addresses of its members in such a way as not to breach the Data Protection Act, in order to comply with the beliefs above. We also believe that EUSA does not adequately represent the members of this occupation until this demand is fulfilled.

2. We note that some people prefer to a) represent themselves in person and/or b) receive important information in person and/or c) do not recognise the representative authority of existing unions or associations. We believe that these people should not be excluded from University consultation procedures. We move to demand that the University agree in principle to organise, and respond to requests for, open meetings with its staff and student body, with the details to be discussed in further negotiations with non-hierarchical organisations, such as Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Coalition.

3. We note that the University has not moved to remove us from Appleton Tower, and has essentially tolerated our presence. We note that staff have been running the Tower under normal rules and increased security presence, weather notwithstanding.

We note that there was a significant departure from this norm on the 30th November, when the building was closed to non-students with no prior notification. We also note that this was in contrast to many other occupations around the country, where large assemblies were held on the same day. We note that there was a coinciding large police presence, including forward intelligence teams, on the invitation of the university. We note that there was an abrupt move to lock the occupied space of LT1 on the same day, on grounds of reduced security presence.

We believe that the move to lock our occupied space without warning, the increase in security presence, the invitation of police to the university, and the partial closure of Appleton Tower, were all unnecessary actions to take, given that the conduct of the occupiers and their associates (student and non-student) has been universally peaceful and respectful.

We move to demand that the University does not invite police on to its premises in relation to any future anti-cuts protests and occupations unless a crime has been committed. We move to demand that the University informs any future co-operative occupations of any changes in access policy. We move to demand that the University does not provide increased security, over and above that required to satisfy health and safety regulations, in the event of future occupations. We move to demand late-access negotiations from the University in exchange for co-operation of current and future occupations.

4. We note from your correspondence that no disciplinary action will be taken against the occupiers of Appleton Tower unless they commit an offence or engage in misconduct as defined by the General Statement. We note that the General Statement covers a broad range of misconduct, and is not explicit in some of its clauses. We believe that some general actions of our occupation (such as entering a room in the university and declining to leave) could be misconstrued as ‘misconduct’ in this statement. We move to request clarification on this issue, and assurance that none of our actions to date could be defined as ‘misconduct’, to the best of your knowledge.

5. We note that there are many mechanisms of reducing staffing costs in relation to budgetary cuts. We note that these include, but are not limited to, pay freezes, unpaid overtime, reduced hours, part-time working, redeployment, pension reduction and voluntary redundancies. We note that many of these have been used in the past to avoid compulsory redundancies, notably in the recent restructuring of Moray House. We believe that as a modern employer with a large staff base and a secure financial position, the University should not include compulsory redundancies as part of its options for reducing staffing costs. We move to demand that the University commits to not utilising compulsory redundancies as an option for reducing staffing costs, and that any actions taken will be completely transparent.

6. We note that the University will ‘work hard to influence other universities within the Russell Group and within Universities Scotland’. We believe that the context of this is not clear from your correspondence. We move to request clarification that the University will influence other universities in line with their own stated reaction to tertiary education cuts and fees, and how they will go about doing this. We also move to request that the University will clearly state that they will lobby Scottish and UK governments regarding this issue.

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Media Coverage of Yesterday

Three of our favourite news articles covering yesterdays snow ball fight with the parliament building at Holyrood. Interesting to see the different angles they’re coming from!

Its great to see the media dedicating coverage to our cause. The press seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit yesterday too! The Sun article is quite funny, ‘pelters’?!

The Guardian: Edinburgh students’ snowball protest over tuition fees

The Sun: We gave them pelters!

The Scotsman: Student anger snowballs in Scotland

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Four more occupations at the time of writing this! Taking it up to 16. Current Occupations: Regularly Updated

Today’s demo was a great success. We had a nice big snowball fight with parliament!

Nick Clegg didn’t turn up. Contacts through NUS Scotland suggested that he had pulled out. It is all very confusing.

Later in the day 25 protesters managed to force their way into New College, Edinburgh. Where MP Michael Moore, LibDem Cabinet Minister for Scotland was hosting the launch of the Scots bill, we stayed in the courtyard of the building for the duration of the meeting. Blocking the main doors. Their were numerous MPs and MSPs present. The meeting left through a rear entrance, whilst the protesters were encircled and outnumbered by police. This was the meeting, moved from Dynamic Earth, that we had been informed Nick Clegg would attend.

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Plans for the Rally, now featuring Nick Clegg?

Take a look at the previous post about Nick Clegg being at Holyrood. We’ve been in contact with four reliable sources who have informed us that he will be there. This coincides with the destination of our rally. This is our chance to show Nick Clegg the diversity of people supporting this cause! People are coming from every walk of life fighting education cuts in Scotland and across the UK.

Legal Note:

We are not organising this rally, nor did we call it in the first place. We are just one group that are involved and promoting it.

There are numerous other groups turning up. This rally has come together organically, so we have no idea of numbers. But this has also been promoted by the University and College Union, Edinburgh University’s Student Association President Liz Rawlings, Edinburgh College of Arts Student Union (can’t confirm this atm), trade unions and is backed by the National Union of Students. Individuals from this blog, our twitter, flyering across the city and word of mouth have said they will join us. We have been receiving around 5000 unique hits each day on the blog. This does not even include people using University computers for instance, which may be counted as only one hit. This movement has no leaders: This is truly grass roots action! All we really know is that it is going to be big!

The march meets at Bristo Square in Edinburgh at 11:30

We have had a meeting with the police and city council.

They suggested the best route would be along George IV Bridge, then down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

Take a look at this legal advice and take down the phone number, it shouldn’t come to this though. But you should know your rights and how to get support just in case:

Dress warm. REALLY WARM. Bring flasks of hot drinks/soup. Bring water and food. If we stay comfy and happy then it will be great fun!

Bring drums, costumes, vuvuzelas, anything else that makes a noise!

We already know of a funeral procession that is planned mourning higher education. So if you fancy joining them!

We are also planning on calling for Britain’s Biggest Snowball Fight!

When we reach Holyrood there will be numerous speakers. We have arranged for at least two Members of Scottish Parliament, speakers from across Scotland, and speakers from the NUS, UCU, EUSA, NUJ and numerous others.

At Holyrood we are going to show the nation how to have fun and how to keep warm!

If you are a school pupil wear your uniform! Both to show people that we are not then apathetic and to ensure proper treatment from police.

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The Edinburgh Occupation has received confirmation from four very reliable sources that Nick Clegg will be in Edinburgh tomorrow launching the Scottish Bill at 3:10pm at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood. This is next to the Scottish Parliament the destination of the Scottish National Day of Action which will be marching from Bristo Square at 11:30.

This will be more than just Britain’s biggest snowball fight! This will be the opportunity for Students, higher education staff, their supporters and all those who will be affected by upcoming cuts to make their voices heard by the Government. Quite literally.

This is a secret. So tell everybody.

One of our sources has confirmed a current media black out on the situation.

The sources all gave the same building and the same time (around 3).

We were hesitant to publicise this at first, as we only had one (though very reliable source). We can not say any more to protect their anonymity.

Let’s march on Holyrood!

Bristo Square 11:30, The Old Town, Edinburgh to Holyrood Parliament. Meet Nick at 3.

The police suggested this route, but as we have not organised this march we can not guarantee that this will be followed.

Bristo Square
Forrest Road
George IV Bridge
Royal Mile

Some of the confirmed speakers tomorrow:
Sandra White MSP (SNP)
Someone from Glasgow anticuts
Someone from Strathclyde anticuts
Pete Murray, NUJ president
Liz Rawlings President of EUSA
A vice President of NUS

Wrap up really warm, bring snacks, flasks etc. as it will be VERY COLD and could involve a lot of standing still. Though we will try to reduce this with enetertainment! Lets keep warm and well fed! It will be a great day!

Oil Drums and wood would be amazing if at all possible!
Bring extra hot drinks/soup to share
Instruments: Nothing beats entertainment!
Contact us for ideas etc!

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Argument sheet: Advice on successful flyering

Advice on successful flyering

We’ve a fantastic primer here on talking points and style for getting people on board with the campaign. If you’re flyering, or just wanting to get your friends, colleagues, family and pets involved, give it a read. Hard copies of the flyers and this sheet will be available as ever from the Appleton Tower lobby.

Good luck!



We need to understand our audience – below are some ways to engage and convince people.
Be polite, make eye contact, and listen to them before choosing your argument.

For the self-interested
Emphasise family links – do they have a sibling who deserves the chance to go to uni?
Post-grad – useful because no one is sure of what they will do next. It will matter later.
Jobs – student support won’t last forever. More cuts means more competition for jobs.
For Scottish Nationalists- (“English cuts, won’t affect me”)
All budgets are being reduced, including the Scottish Parliament’s. Influencing the Scottish budget starts at UK level, that is where unpalatable spending plans are drawn up.
English unis will be funded through expensive tuition fees. If Scottish unis remain free but lose state funding, they will have less funding over all, and fall behind in the competitive education ‘marketplace’. Scottish unis will have to start charging fees. What happens in England happens here next.

Tuition Fees

Under the proposed changes in HE and FE, student fees will rise to between £7000 and £9000 annually. On average, it would take 29 years for a graduate earning £27,000 to pay off the £45,000 that they would owe.
Students who can afford to pay the new fees up front will save between £7000 and £15,000 over those who need to repay personally.
The cuts include an 80-100% cut in state funding for Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts – heralding an end to state funded university education.
Don’t lose people by denying that any cuts need to be made. Emphasise that UK debt levels are lower than France, Germany, and Italy, and that while we owe 68% GDP in debt, we owed 52% GDP in 2008.

If someone says “I’m not saying that only the rich should get an education, but we can’t afford free education, so we need a new system”:

Young people and students did not cause this crisis. We oppose the attempt to increase tuition fees because it jeopardises our future. With the proposed increases it will cost up to £40,000 to do a degree, which will take the average student 29 years to repay. Disposable income will be reduced and society will be poorer. Deterring people from higher education will result in a less educated workforce in the future. Instead, a graduate tax would create, on average, £56,000 in profit for the economy through taxing graduate salaries. Graduates would pay for themselves with higher tax payments later in life.

Other cuts and measures should be taken first: Trident renewal costs £34 billion; there are 18 millionaires in the UK govt. cabinet; Vodafone owe £6 billion in unpaid tax (cuts UK wide are £4.2 billion); Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative Chairman, alone owes £3.4 million in tax. Corporate tax evasion and new business taxes, such as the Robin Hood tax, could cover the cost of public healthcare and education.

The vote in December is not about a deferred tax, it is about whether tuition fees can be increased to £9,000 a year. If you oppose this increase you should act. After we block the vote you can decide what to do instead. The only reason not to oppose the increase is if you agree with it.
The Social Impact of the proposed Tuition Fees

We do not know how banks and credit agencies will treat graduates with £45,000 debt.

The 30 year repayment period will hit mature students particularly hard – middle aged students retraining after going out of work (pretty likely in this crisis period) will end up replaying their loans into their retirement.

Arts and humanities teach us how society and economics work. In the future only richer students will get the chance to equip themselves with this. (Note how many cabinet members studies History, or Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

For arts students – A market based approach to education encourages unis to offer profitable courses, i.e. Law, science, medicine. Arts, though they are essential to critical thinking and ingenuity, are less directly profitable. They would disappear.

Political Arguments – most campaigners will be familiar with these arguments

The proposed fees and cuts have no democratic legitimacy – neither of the parties pushing them through won a majority and neither of them made these proposals at the election. The Browne Report was written by a Lord who made his fortune in Oil.

The politicians who are doing this all paid nothing for their degrees.

The proposed rise in tuition fees won’t cut the deficit and are ideologically motivated – they aim to end publicly funded undergraduate degrees and to move the costs and risks of education from the state onto the individual – business and society will still enjoy the benefits though. Rich individuals will fare better than everyone else, regardless of their actual level of intelligence or motivation.

Try comparing the US view of public services. Look at the difference between the US distrust of the NHS and how the UK values it. Look at how much more they pay in fees. We must protect the public services others have won for us, and for those after us. Arguments for taking away free education could equally apply to health care, but we reject, in UK, the idea of scrapping NHS because we find it unacceptable for someone’s health to be defined by money. The same goes for education. For downsides to cuts in general see Ireland.

Could you have paid £36,000 in fees? Should you? Should others?
Have you changed course? Fees would make it much harder to try something in order to decide whether you like it. No more second chances.

Channel 4 Fact Check on the proposed Tuition Fees

Social Market Foundation calculations on the costs to Graduates of the proposed Tuition Fees

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