Demands to the University
26 November 2010
The Occupation of Old Schools Senior Combination Room, University of Cambridge
We, the Cambridge occupation, following a collective and democratic process, make these demands of University of Cambridge management:
1. That the University completely oppose the increase in fees, fight against it and fight against all cuts to education, and use its influence to oppose the spending review’s threat to education, welfare, health, and other public services.
2. That the University use its influence to fight for free education for all.
3. That the University acknowledge and take steps to combat the systemic inequality of access to this elitist institution and the danger of its intensification posed by the scrapping of EMA, a rise in tuition fees and removal of programs such as Aim Higher.
4. That the University declare it will never privatise.
5. That the University commit to ensure the autonomy of education from corporate interests.
6. That the University recognise UCU (University & College Union). We urge post-graduates, academics and all university staff to unionise.
7. That the University ensure that no students who take part in any form of peaceful protest will face disciplinary action.
8. That the University urge Gonville and Caius College to open their library, and allow Caius Students full access. (mission accomplished)
Public Statement of the Occupiers of Old Schools, Cambridge University
29 November 2010
We, the occupiers of Old Schools, believe that the management of Cambridge University is betraying its academics, staff, and students, present and future, by failing to oppose the cuts to education and by welcoming an increase in fees to £9000. Cuts are already damaging the quality of education in Cambridge, and increased fees will irreparably undermine equality of access. Education should be free; a social good which benefits everyone, not a commodity that is marketised, outsourced to corporations, and out of the reach of ordinary people.
The cuts to education are part of a wider agenda of cuts to public services, welfare, and jobs. This agenda represents an ideological decision by the coalition government to make ordinary people and future generations pay for a financial crisis caused by the banks and corporations. If our current economic model cannot support and satisfy basic demands such as free education, employment for all, and a decent pension upon retirement, then we demand a system that can.
We are not alone in opposition to the education cuts. The demonstrations thus far have shown that students are unwilling to accept the proposals for fees and cuts. There have been occupations in over 20 universities across the country. In addition, over 150 academics at Cambridge University have made the following statement of solidarity:
As academics and teachers at Cambridge University, we wish to express our support for the peaceful direct action currently underway in the symbolic ‘occupation’ of the Old Schools. This is a crucial moment for the future of higher education and young people all over the country are rightly attempting to make their voices heard and their concerns taken into account. We call on the University to ensure that no undue force is exercised against the students involved in the occupation. We urge the University to take note of their demands and urge the Vice-Chancellor to express opposition to the current government’s destructive agenda for higher education.
The time to resist is now – the coalition want to rush through the vote on fees before Christmas, but the student resistance is growing. We call for the widest movement possible to join students in the fight against the cuts. In particular, we call for MPs, councillors, trade unions, student unions, the TUC, and the NUS to do the following:
Publicly support student occupations through all available media channels. Call immediately for a new wave of occupations as a legitimate form of protest against fees and cuts.
Organise financial, legal, and political aid for all current and future occupations. Call a national day of action on the day of the parliamentary vote on tuition fees. Officially support any staff taking further industrial action on cuts. Support and join the Trade Unions Congress “March for the Alternative: Jobs, Growth, Justice” on the 26th March 2011.
These peaceful demonstrations and occupations by students are only the beginning. Ultimately, a mass movement is needed to bring down the coalition government, which has no democratic mandate to carry out these austerity measures.