Students at the University of Cambridge staged an occupation on Tuesday 24 October and demanded that University Vice-Chancellor Alison Richard stop lobbying for an even higher university tuition fee.
They occupied the Sedgewick lecture block yesterday evening at around 6pm. At 10pm they were threatened with academic discipline by Chief provost Dr. Frank King, who asked them to leave. They refused and hunkered down for the night.
As the occupation kicked off, Cambridge Education Not for Sale issued the following statement:
On the occupation of Sidgwick lecture site in protest at top-up fees
Alison Richard: stop calling for higher fees!
Tax the rich to fund free education!
For a living grant for all!
Cambridge Education Not for Sale are occupying a lecture theatre from 6pm on October 24 to demand the University Vice-Chancellor Alison Richard stops lobbying for an even higher university tuition fee.
With students already faced with a £3,000 a year bill for tuition, VCs are demanding huge increases when the cap is reviewed in 2009, with elite institutions like Cambridge seeking permission to charge up to £10,000 a year.
The financial situation for many students is already dire; many work long hours at low-paid jobs to fund their education, with a heavy impact on academic work. The introduction of the £3,000 top-up fee this year was a massive blow to education in Britain, making it impossible for countless young working-class people to enter Higher Education and effectively deterring thousands more. The 3.7% drop in applications represents over 15,000 students, equivalent to the whole of Coventry University disappearing!
Raising the cap on fees will only increase the elitist nature of our education system. Education is a right, not a privilege for those whose parents can afford it; it should be a properly-funded, high quality public service, available to all.
ENS believes that there is only one way to fund a genuinely free and fair education system - taxation of the rich and business, redistributing resources from profits and luxury to the education and other services people need. This is the only demand that can cut through the government's lying claim that there is not enough money for public services.
We want to unite students and workers, particularly lecturers and other campus workers, in defence of public education and against the privatisation which is affecting education as it is other public services. We stand against the privatisation and outsourcing of campus services and in solidarity with all university workers campaigning to defend and improve their rights.
We welcome the anti-fees action by the National Union of Students and call on student activists to mobilise for the national demonstration in London on October 29.
At the same time, we do not think that one demonstration a year will be enough to stop top-up fees, let alone begin to reverse marketisation and win the kind of education system students need. We're calling on activists to take direct action against top-up fees on their campus. If you are based in or near Cambridge, please come and join our teach-in at Lecture Room 1, Sidgwick Site.
Cambridge Education Not For Sale