Universities

Workers' Liberty students

Student activists in Workers' Liberty argue for working class socialist ideas and campaign on issues like freedom of movement, anti-racism, workers' rights, international solidarity and free movement. Every Monday until December: Workers' Liberty Students will be holding informal online political discussions on the following topics; we'll also catch up on current campaigns. More news on higher education and student campus action here. Monday 23 November 6-7pm: Solidarity with the Uyghurs In Xinjiang, a region in the northwest of China which is known to most Uyghur people as East Turkestan...

AWL UCU Strike bulletins - 2019/2020

Workers' Liberty workplace activists in Higher Education have made strike bulletins - see this page for them all; and for links to related "tags".

Student rent strikes spread

On 23 November, students at Cambridge University were the latest group to declare they will refuse to pay their rent for their university accommodation until certain demands are met. Cambridge rent strikers join groups at Manchester (who are also occupying a university building) and at Bristol currently not paying rent; other student groups have either pledged to strike in January or are planning to strike if demands are not met (York, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths). Cambridge are demanding: a 30% rent reduction; all students allowed to study remotely should they wish to; no Covid-19 job losses; no...

More student battles brewing

In the week starting 16 November, groups of students are organising workshops, banner drops, and email campaigns to highlight high rents, draconian lockdowns, and general lack of support at UK Universities. The National Union of Students (NUS) is promoting and encouraging local events, but has stopped short of calling for a national campaign of rent strikes. From 12 November, students at Manchester escalated their rent strike by occupying Owens Park Tower. The occupiers say: “We were lied to and brought onto unsafe campuses, forced to pay insane rent for facilities we can’t even access. We’ve...

Students organise towards January

As lockdown began, the Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan reassured students, contrary to other advice coming from the government (!), that universities should carry on with in-person teaching. Meanwhile many students have voted with their feet, opting to return to parental homes to study online. Can students win what they need to rescue their academic year from university management incompetence? On Tuesday 17 November, as part of a week of action, the National Union of Students (NUS) plans a series of online “Town Hall” meetings with local MPs, to publicise their...

Universities in lockdown

As Solidarity goes to press on 3 November, Lockdown 2 is about to begin (5 November) with universities subject to ambiguous government guidance. On the one hand they are expected to stay “open” (not that they ever closed, but instead put in enormous effort to deliver teaching online). On the other they are told “to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible”. Some Vice-Chancellors took less than 24 hours to consider and announce that they would be sticking with their status quo of continuing in-person teaching — even where it is not required for the subject or...

Biggest rent strike for years

At the start of this week (26 October) around 1,300 students at Bristol University withheld their rent for uni accommodation, amounting to around £2 million. This is the biggest student rent strike for many years. Bristol students, who pay up to £8,000 a year, were promised the “full university experience” only to be locked down for weeks without adequate support. The Bristol strike is more advanced than others that are being planned around the UK. Strikers are demanding the right to end accommodation contracts early and a 30% rebate if they chose to stay. At Durham University 7.5% of students...

Build student rent strikes

At Manchester University a total of 171 students have pledged to withhold £307,000 in rent. At Bristol 850 students have pledged to strike. Students at many other places are discussing taking such action after being signed up to move into halls of residence and pay rent and then finding almost no teaching other than online. There are many issues besides lack of support over Covid. At Manchester student accommodation is unsafe, in poor repair, and pest-infected. At Homerton College, Cambridge, students threatened a rent strike and called it off when their college management agreed to investment...

Universities: the right to move

Issues of health and safety, together with increased workload, alongside cuts, have led to a number of local disputes opening up in universities. A staff-student online assembly organised by the UCU Solidarity Movement on 10 October has called a day of action on 16 October. Groups of students at a number of universities are discussing rent strikes, but these need to be backed up by local student unions and the National Union of Students running a much higher profile campaign around “the right to move” (to get out of accommodation contracts, to return home, to defer courses). Most universities...

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