Three of the five students suspended after a demonstration at the University of Birmingham last month have been reinstated.
The students had been suspended following a national demonstration on 29 January, after they were arrested and later released by police. The demonstration saw clashes with security and police, as well as damage to university buildings.
The students had been suspended for three weeks, and still face disciplinary action from the university.
Campaigners claim that the university’s move came under threat of a judicial review by solicitors representing the suspended students. A petition against the suspensions has gathered over 5,000 signatures, and the move was also condemned in an open letter published by the Guardian.
Defend Education has also expressed concern about the two remaining students, who they say may be suspended for the rest of the year.
Deborah Hermanns, one of the three reinstated students, said: “I am delighted to be re-instated but I am extremely upset to have missed three weeks of my degree as a result this suspension.
This has been immensely stressful for me, particularly because the university refused to give me any opportunity to challenge its decision. We were accused of participating in a demonstration with over 400 other people, yet just five of us were suspended. The university is now singling out just two.”
Simon Natas of ITN Solicitors, who represented the students, said: “The suspension of a student who has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing is an extreme measure which could all too easily have this effect. Today’s developments are welcome but we encourage the university to lift all the suspensions”.
In a statement, the university said it had “reviewed the cases following changes in bail conditions for some of the students” and had decided to “lift the suspensions for some of the students, who remain on bail and under police investigation for possible offences”.
“The suspensions remain in place for the other students on bail, due to the very serious nature of the allegations or charges they face. The university will continue to keep the cases under review informed by the ongoing police investigations and changing circumstances.”