Today, 11th May at 8am 50 students from the University of Sussex occupied a business centre on the University campus.
The slogan of the protest is "Free Education Not Business Incubation".
The students are protesting against the increasing involvement of private enterprise in universities. They call for a fully state funded higher education system without tuition fees and accessible to all by means of a grant students can live on.
Businesses being developed at the "Sussex Innovation Centre" include American Express - a big employer of low paid indebted students. The occupiers say the university should not be involved in developing such enterprises which exploit students and should focus it efforts in providing a decent level of services to students. The number of teaching hours per week in many courses is abysmally low. It is impossible to get a square meal after 4pm on campus. Rent goes up every year without any noticeable improvements and the entire Chemistry department is being threatened with closure. Rather than forming partnerships with American Express and the like, the university should be focusing its attention on addressing these fundamental grievances.
The 11th of May is European day of protest against the Bologna process. This process, which is changing the landscape of European Higher Education, has been drafted in collusion with some of the biggest corporations (represented by the European Round Table of Industrialists). The students oppose this process because they see this as a prime example of the market gaining influence in public services.
One student involved in the action told libcom.org news that they intend to continue the occupation at least until the end of the day. The University attempted to serve papers on the students which were refused, and students have been threatened with possible legal action over lost profits.