The University of Sussex has threatened “swift action” against a group of students who have once again occupied a major building on campus in protest against what they see as the “privatisation of services on campus”.
Several dozen students have barricaded themselves in the Bramber House building at the university campus in Falmer, as part of a fight against the authorities’ plans to outsource vital services on campus.
A spokesperson for the students said that the ongoing “transfer of services to the private sector” is part of a “trend of marketisation in higher education”.
“This can further be seen in Monday’s announcement of the sale of the student loan book for those taken out before 1998, with plans in the making to privatise the rest.
He added: “All attempts to engage in meaningful dialogue over this issue have been rejected or pacified; reducing the income for these entities is a last resort to make them listen.”
In a statement, the university has said it has “started legal steps to bring an end to a disruptive occupation”.
The university’s registrar, John Duffy, insisted that it would press on with its plans to outsource catering and estates services.
"No services in Sussex have been privatised. We have agreed a new partnership to manage our on-campus catering and that has led to more people using our campus cafes and a welcome improvement in service standards.”
In a list of demands, the occupiers have said they want catering services brought back in-house, and the outsourcing process ended, as well as restructured procedures at the university to help hold management “accountable”, and an end to “intimidation” of students and low-level employees.
This is not the first time Bramber House has been occupied by Sussex students, who have a proud history of activism. Rooms in the building were first occupied in February, to protest an outsourcing protest that had been going on since May 2012. Protesters were finally evicted in April, but they have clearly yet to abandon their cause.