Students at the University of Birmingham have occupied part of the Aston Webb Building demanding that the University give students and staff a greater stake in decisions. They entered the building around 6:30 on Wednesday evening and have barricaded themselves into the University’s Senate Chamber. University Senate is a body that historically represented academic control over the University of Birmingham, but the students claim that this academic control has been eroded and that the university is now run only by senior management.
The occupation is being organised by an activist group called Birmingham Defend Education, who have put a statement on their website explaining their reasons for occupying and making demands to the university.
“Defend Education believe that staff and students should have more power in every level of university decision making. Currently a small class of senior managers benefit disproportionately from the fees and work of staff and students. They have total unaccountable power to harm our interests within the university and lobby against our interests outside it.
We are fighting this campaign to try and put pressure on the university to directly accept the following demands; but also because we wish to start a debate and dialogue among students and workers at the University about the kind of institution we want it to be and how we can bring this about.”
The University Press Office has issued a statement:
“Universities are places of free speech and we respect the rights of students to protest peacefully and within the law. Our priority is the safety and well being of our students, staff and the wider community and we are concerned where any protest poses a potential hazard to protesters or bystanders, or causes unwarranted disruptions to study or work, or damage to property. We are particularly concerned that the actions of this small number of students is diverting safety and security resources and potentially diminishing the safety of our 28000 other students.”
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