The Warwick University protest is yet another sign that students aren't going to take it any more

This latest protest proves that students have had enough of marketisation in higher education, says Michael Segalov

At 4.30pm on Friday 14th June, students from
Protect the Public University at the University of Warwick went into occupation of the university’s Council Chamber. This is the latest action in a year that has seen a remarkable resurgence in student activism, unseen since the tuition fee rises in 2010.

The Council Chamber, the University’s most important meeting room, sits in Senate House, an administrative building on the campus. A spokesperson for the campaign explained that the decision to act now had been planned extensively, targeting the ‘Warwick book festival and two major open days’, all taking place in the next seven days, in an attempt to draw attention to their campaign.

Unlike much other student resistance over the past few months, the students are focused solely on wider issues facing education. One student explained that the occupation was called in the hope that ‘we will provide impetus for the formation of an effective national student resistance to inequality within our universities.’ In the occupiers first statement, they highlight their ‘dismay’ at the vice chancellor of Warwick, Nigel Thrift, taking a pay increase of £42,000, putting his annual salary at £316,000. At a time of austerity and cuts to education funding, the students are suggesting this pay rise is revoked, and that the funds instead be used to provide ‘an annual bursary for students from the local area’.

This is not the first time vice chancellors’ six-figure salaries have been questioned by students. At the universities of London and Birmingham to name but a few, students have been publicly questioning the salaries of their institution's managers, while pay cuts and privatisation plans are being implemented on campuses around the countries.

Warwick’s protestors list other objectives, including asking the management to refuse to outsource services, providing greater student and staff representation in the decision making processes, and asking the vice chancellor to commit to ‘the protection and promotion of the public university.’

The occupation begins in the same week that it has been revealed the Government is considering raising interest rates on old student loans, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that young people in their twenties have been hardest hit in the recession seeing their median income fall by 12 per cent in the last five years.

Gurminder Bhambra, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Social Theory Centre at Warwick University, has advocated in the wake of these revelations, that it is ‘the time to ask about the purposes of the university’ and to ‘engage in a dialogue not just about the university but also wider inequalities’. When asked about the student occupation, Professor Bhambra suggested that ‘it could be argued that the students in occupation are engaging with this agenda in its most profound sense’.

The Boar, the University’s student paper, reported that ‘a security van attended the scene within minutes of the occupation, giving the students an agreement that they would not block off their toilet facilities and food supplies,’ However, as I was speaking to students in occupation on Friday night, security staff were already requesting the protestors show university ID, a sign that already the university is being forced to act in some form. So far, a spokesperson for the university has made clear that they feel ‘such events are quite common at universities and we will keep this one under observation.” Yesterday, Michael Glover, the academic registrar, entered the occupation and reiterated that the university will refuse to engage with the protestors as long as they are in occupation.

What happens over the coming days will be worth watching. Recent protests against privatisation at Sussex University saw an occupation lasting two months, a national demonstration attracting thousands, and the formation of a ‘pop-up union’, to fight privatisation plans.

Support for the occupation at Warwick had been flooding in, with students and academics across the country expressing their support, including the likes of Owen Jones getting behind the campaign. Teach-ins and rallies are already taking place, and a letter has been sent by the campaign to the university management.

Across the country students, academics and concerned onlookers will be watching Warwick closely. Could the next 12 months see a resurrection in student activism across the nation? Based on the last few months, it seems this may well be on the cards.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Learning Support Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Working within these environments can ...

School Cover Supervisors in Wakefield Area

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Class cover supervisors in Wakefi...

Secondary Schools Cover Supervisors - Leeds

£50 - £70 per day + & travel and expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: Urgently ...

English Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: English Teacher RequiredImm...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal