Warwick University buildings occupied in 'privatisation' protest


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The Independent Online

A room of the Senate House building at the University of Warwick has been occupied by a group of students to protest against the ‘privatisation and marketisation’ of higher education since late last week.

The group calls itself Protect the Public University – Warwick (PPU) and has outlined eight ‘objectives’, including that Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift give up his £42,000 pay rise and use it to fund a bursary for local students.

Warwick’s academic registrar Michael Glover has refused to engage with the students and said in a letter sent to the occupiers and seen by The Independent that the occupation was having ‘a number of negative impacts on the operation of the university’.

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

Mr Glover demands that the group set an end date for their occupation and has labelled the indefinite extension of the occupation “totally unacceptable”.

“The university has shown no interest in opening dialogue and it's resorting to intimidation,” said a spokesperson for the occupiers.

On Tuesday evening, professors from the Universities of Warwick and Nottingham gave talks outside the building in support of the occupation, attended by over 100 students and staff from Warwick and elsewhere.

Supporters wore squares of yellow cloth to show their solidarity with the occupation. They also signed an open letter of solidarity, which had gained around 175 signatures by the end of the talk.

Several professors were present in the audience on Tuesday. One overseas professor, who wished to remain anonymous, said he came to express his solidarity with the movement but was shocked that more of his colleagues did not turn up.

He said he declined to take an active part in the protest out of fear of losing his work visa for the UK.

A spokesperson for Warwick said the university's refusal to engage with the occupiers was because they are ‘unelected’.

“The university is an intensely democratic place,” he said “We engage with elected students.”

He added: “We don't even know who these people are. We've asked them to identify themselves. We don't even know if they are students.”

This afternoon the university closed the Postgraduate Hub, which is attached to Senate House, as a result of the occupation. Senate House itself has also been partially closed.