Students have been joining the university workers’ union UCU on picket lines, organising stalls, leafletting, banner drops, joint rallies, teach-outs and fundraising gigs, and taking part in direct action.
Through the Student Strike Solidarity group, students across the country are discussing demands, tactics and sharing resources. In the run up to the strike, Student Strike Solidarity held days of action to start building student support and regular online
meetings. Next, we are planning a national meeting after the strikes to discuss how we can build on the momentum and rebuild the student movement.
On our campuses we have been mobilising students to join picket lines, organising joint rallies, teach-outs and fundraising gigs, and taking part in direct action. We are demanding our Vice Chancellors publicly call on the employers’ organisations, UUK and UCEA, to meet the UCU’s demands, guarantee no victimisation of striking staff or students protesting, and cancel all attendance monitoring during the strikes.
This last demand is particularly important for international students on Tier 4 visas, whose immigration status is dependent on attendance.
Students at Cambridge have shut down the Old Schools building, and Glasgow School of Art students disrupted a meeting of all Scottish Vice Chancellors in support of these demands. Brighton students have held regular sit ins, and Exeter activists used tents to blockade a road into the university.
The day before the strike started, Stirling University suspended thirteen students for taking part in last term’s occupation in support of the strike. Management are claiming the occupation of management offices was a “level two offence” which “put lives at risk”.
Other level two offences are possession of firearms and sexual assault. The students report that public support from students and UCU activists around the country is helping to mount up the pressure on their university management. Last term, support from UCU and a demonstration helped to reverse the suspension of a Reading student for an attempted occupation.
The student left needs to launch a campaign around the right to protest, and throw all its weight behind defending victimised students.