Arts Against Cuts: An ‘an umbrella space for students, artists and cultural workers to display and align their ideas and actions against the cuts’
Council for the Defence of British Universities: CDBU is dedicated to the purpose of defending academic values and the institutional arrangements best suited to fostering them
Defend the Arts and Humanities: This is a broad based campaign set up to counter attacks on arts and humanities academic subjects and, in particular, to fight against any proposed withdrawal of public funding for these subjects in the context of the current global crisis
Education Activist Network: Works to ‘support, build and encourage action against education cuts through demonstrations, student occupations and industrial action’, and to encourage relations of solidarity with workers across the public sector
Education Not for Sale: An anti-capitalist organisation to resist the rule of profit in education and throughout society; established in 2005
Edufactory Collective: A transnational network dedicated to theorising the present conflicts of the university, linking localised student and faculty struggles, and imagining and creating an alternative global autonomous university
Humanities and Social Sciences Matter: a campaign to promote and defend world-leading humanities and social science teaching and research in UK universities. We believe in Higher Education teaching that is informed by the highest quality research, that engages with society, and is open to all on the basis of merit.
National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees: A national organisation to coordinate actions of campus-based groups at UK universities, colleges and schools
Parents against the uni fee increases and removal of EMA: A webpage organised to facilitate discussion amongst concerned parents ‘who disagree with the raise in uni fees and the abolition of the EMA’ — ‘let us all stand in solidarity with our kids’, it declares, ‘at this momentous time in their lives'; also incorporates defence of the democratic right to protest.
The Provisional University: ‘Autonomous education is a movement that is centred in the activity of study, and whose aim is to take this activity back to its root, i.e. to desire – studere in Latin means “to desire”.’ The Provisional University is an autonomous education project based in Dublin.
Really Free School (London): ‘Surrounded by institutions and universities, there is newly occupied space where education can be re-imagined. Amidst the rising fees and mounting pressure for ‘success’, we value knowledge in a different currency; one that everyone can afford to trade. In this school, skills are swapped and information shared, culture cannot be bought or sold. Here is an autonomous space to find each other, to gain momentum, to cross-pollinate ideas and actions.’
Really Open University: The Really Open University is an ‘ongoing process of transformation by those with a desire to challenge the higher education system and its role in society’, emphasising the production of ‘creative-resistive tactics that rethink and reclaim space and put it to different ends, from flashmobs to public assemblies’, in order to conduct a series of interventions info different ways of living.’
Sociology against the Cuts: a British Sociological Association blog in response to the budget cuts announced in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
Uniting to Save EMA: Organisation of students, college lecturers and trade unions to save the Educational Maintenance Allowance, which is threatened with abolition
University Politics – University as a Public Good: a blog made to claim universities as a public good in democratic societies, and to contest and challenge the increasing dominance of the academic capitalist knowledge regime over the classic public good university.
Universities in Crisis: a blog of the International Sociological Association with articles and comments on the impact of privatisation and other reforms on university systems across the world
UK University Groups and Campaigns
University of East Anglia
Occupations and Reclamations
November 2011 – ‘Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes‘ (as of 23/11/2011, Birmingham, Cambridge, and Warwick were in occupation)
News from Greece – departmental occupations across the country, click here for details.
Glasgow, August 2011 – After occupying the Hetherington building for almost 200 days, Glasgow University students are celebrating the management’s agreement to impose no further cuts to courses, no compulsory redundancies, and to instate a new postgraduate club at the university. It is reported to be the longest running student occupation in UK history. For more, see here and here.
USA… Resistance to corporate power and ‘austerity’ politics have erupted across the United States this spring as well, beginning most visibly with the occupation of the Wisonsin State House from 14/2 – 2/3 and its reoccupation on 8/3. The month of March also saw sit-ins for campus workers’ rights at the universities of Rutgers, Emory, Wisconsin, William and Mary, Tulane and the University of Texas, and at the University of Minnesota, in solidarity with Wisconsin Students and Workers and Against University Budget Cuts (for a reflection, see here). On 30 March, the State House in Albany (NY) was occupied by students and academics protesting budget cuts in education. And on 13 and 20 April, there were multiple sit-ins across the campuses of California State.
In a continuing struggle against Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 and in defence of the preservation of Ethnic Studies as a taught discipline, University of California students began another hunger strike in late April 2011.
New year, more resistance… A number of universities have been occupied or re-occupied in the new year! Students of Stop Fees, Stop Cuts Birmingham University occupied a space known as the Physics Bridge for one day on 17 January 2011; they were forcefully evicted and went through a gruelling disciplinary process, after which all were acquitted (for the early petition in their defence and further information, see here). Students at Glasgow University occupied the Hetherington Research Club on 1 February 2011, organising a wide programme of meetings, discussions, films and activities. Students at Hull University reoccupied the Staff House on 7 February. In another move, students at the LSE occupied the Senior Common Room (and later Howard Davies’ office) on 22 February to demand the university sever its affiliation with the Libyan regime and with PhD alumnus Saif Gadaffi (Muammar Gadaffi’s son); the occupation finished the following day when the university took actions that satisfied all but one of the demands. Manchester students also re-occupied the Roscoe Building on 23 February, with the space being used in multiple ways for organising and alternative education. On 24 February, members of the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance began a sit-in of the Arts Building to coincide with a major meeting of Universities UK in London, demanding open debate about the budget cuts, increases in tuition fees and democratic process and rights on campus. They were forcefully evicted on 3 March. On 28 February, students at University College London occupied the Old Refectory ‘to provide a space to organise against the cuts and highlight our grievances with management’ and on 21 March occupied the Registry in solidarity with striking lecturers and administrative staff. On 23 March, students at SOAS occupied the Faber building in solidarity with the University and College Union as well.
Universities are not the only public spaces being occupied now. Following the nationwide ‘read-in’ to defend and affirm the value of public libraries on 5 February, a group of anti-cuts campaigners occupied New Cross Library until 6 February. For more information, see here. On 23 February, Lambeth Save Our Services interrupted the Council budget-setting meeting and occupied Lambeth Town Hall after the meeting decamped to private quarters. For information, see here. A similar scenario unfolded at Leeds Council Chamber on the same day; for information, see here.
For information on university and public space occupation/reclamation during 2010, see the Edinburgh occupations page, the National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees occupations blogroll, and the Really Open University’s Occupation Count.
Politics of protest and policing
‘Dealing with dissent: the view from the authorities’ by Jonathan Moses (OpenDemocracy, 22/02/2011) is an insightful report on how the government, police forces and right-wing think tanks are reconceptualising and responding to the new forms of resistance, and on its implications for democratic protest and political action.
Since the events at Millbank (Conservative Party HQ) during the first national demonstration against fees on 10/11/2010, protests and direct action to oppose education budget cuts and tuition fees have been increasingly heavily policed, and incidents of violence during protests increasingly visible. Of particular concern are police tactics of ‘kettling’ (containing protesters’ movement, see explanation here, report here and accounts here), mounted officers charging into crowds of protesters on horseback (on 24/11/2010 and 9/12/2010), and deliberate aggravation, aggression and physical attack. The case of Middlesex undergraduate student Alfie Meadows, who required brain surgery after being struck on the head with a police truncheon on 9/12/2010 (details here and here), is presently being investigated by the IPCC and championed by his family, friends and colleagues. The case of Jody McIntyre, a protester who was pulled from his wheelchair by police, is also being dealt with extensively in the media (details here and here).
Human rights group Liberty sues Metropolitan Police for ‘kettling’ children during a demonstration on 24/11/2010. For further information, see the Guardian article here and updates on this page.
The Coalition of Resistance and National Convention Against Fees and Cuts together held a press conference on ‘Student protests and police “kettling” tactics’, the video of which is available here (25/11/010). To read and sign the ‘Ban Kettling’ petition, click here.
The National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees has also issued a press statement on ‘Police Violence and Vote on Tuition Fee Increase’ (9/12/2010), and has published legal advice for anyone participating in future demonstrations.
For critical commentary, see Peter Hallward’s article in the Times Higher Education, ‘A new strategy is needed for a brutal new era’ (13/12/2010), here.
Andy Field has also written a thoughtful piece, entitled ‘Towards a new rhetoric of political action’ (14/12/2010) — ‘How can we create a poetry of protest, that remakes the conventional symbols and mechanisms of our lives as powerless consumers? A form of political action that doesn’t just anticipate a better future, but is already making it.’ Click here to read the essay.
Websites and Publications
Post-16 Educator is a bi-monthly magazine produced by and for activists in all sectors of post compulsory education.