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. Usually, every Monday from 6-7pm, Workers' Liberty Students hold informal online political discussions on a wide range of topics with the emphasis on current and relevant struggles. Summer term programme will run from 26 April 2021. Summer term programme will ve: • Monday 10 May: What lefty students should do when they graduate • Monday 17 May: How to fight sexism • Monday 24 May: Solidarity with...

More in-person action on campuses

One hundred students protested at SOAS University in London on 10 May, rejecting an investigation into racism in the institution as insufficient and demanding the removal of director Adam Habib. Petitions, online actions, and motions in the student union and Unison union branch have been organised since back in March the director delivered a racial slur in response to being challenged about cuts to the African Studies department and the failure to address direct racial discrimination on campus, back in March. Students have been challenging Habib’s position as director since his interview with...

Wave of student action

Students are protesting in occupations and rallies on campus around UK universities, finally able to employ in-person direct action after a year of mostly online organising. Rallies have been organised at the London School of Economics (LSE), Goldsmiths and SOAS in London, and the rent strike campaigns have launched a wave of occupations in Manchester, Nottingham, and two Sheffield universities. On Wednesday 28 April, 300 people rallied at LSE in central London. The lively crowd heard speeches from the fee and rent strikes going on at the university, as well as from the SOAS fee strike...

Occupying to win our demands: an interview with a Sheffield Hallam rent striker

Workers' Liberty spoke to James C. from the Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) occupation. This is an escalation of the rent strikes that have been going on all term. The uni have refused to meet with the rent strike. They’ve ignored us. So this is an attempt to get their attention and force them to meet with us. We want them to open a dialogue with the rent strike. And since the occupation began they have agreed to that. The second demand is that we want them to to threaten to break the nomination agreements they have with private halls providers if they don’t pay students their rent back. The...

Wave of action in universities to fight cuts

The summer term at UK universities has opened with direct action by students involved in rent and fee strikes — a last push in this academic year to win our demands. Student rent strike activists at Nottingham University, Sheffield Hallam, Sheffield University and Manchester University have occupied university buildings. When two Sheffield Hallam students were filmed being pinned to the floor by security guards, as they went into occupation in the Cantor building, there was a big push back on social media; this was seen to be typical of the way students have been treated all year. Elsewhere —...

Universities ballot for strikes on course cuts

Multiple branches of the further and higher education union UCU are heading for industrial action after successful ballots. Prison educators working for private firm Novus across forty-nine prisons and young offenders’ institutions were due to take their first day of strike action on 26 April, with two more to follow on 11 and 12 May. That dispute is over health and safety. Staff at London’s United Colleges Group have voted to strike over increased workloads. UCU branches at Leicester and Liverpool have held successful ballots over redundancies, which at Leicester appear to be targeting union...

Student campaigns make links

On 1 April student organisers from five London universities met to reflect on lessons and steps forwards for fee strike action. Over 200 students remain on fee strike across Goldsmiths and SOAS, whilst UAL (University of the Arts, London) and LSE (London School of Economics) students are building support among international and postgraduate students, who remain the only groups capable of withholding fees. The strike at RCA (Royal College of Art) is somewhat diminished due to management bullying and threats of border controls against visa-dependent students, but some students are still on...

For real free speech on campuses!

In October 2020, Gavin Williamson wrote to all university vice-chancellors “requesting” they adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, and insisting on action before Christmas… or else. In February the government announced plans to appoint a “free speech champion” whose job will be to ensure freedom of speech and expression is not stifled at UK universities. The role is embedded in the Office for Students (OFS), which would have the power to impose fines on institutions if the OFS find they have suppressed free speech. New legislation...

Uphold free speech, fight antisemitism

David Miller The government’s new attempt to police freedom of speech and academic freedom on University campuses — e.g. to withhold registration if a University is deemed not be complying — should be opposed. Universities already have a statutory duty to uphold free speech (in the 1986 Education Act). The new push is a demagogic attempt to push back against “wokeness”, linked to reactionary attempts to promote historical pride in such things as colonialism and slavery. However, there are real pressures against free speech and the right to organise on campuses. There have been many free-speech...

UEL strikes 22-23 February

University of East London UCU (University and College Union) held a 230-strong solidarity strike rally on Monday 22 February, the first day of a two day strike, with staff, students and other union activists speaking. The strike is over four compulsory redundancies, including the UCU branch chair (a clear example of victimisation). UCU is also fighting rising workload, drastically increased since September 2020, when 82 jobs were cut. Speakers talked about the effects of the cuts to date, in terms of insufficient services and overwork. Many called for national action by UCU over this and a...

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