Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Further messages of solidarity

Dear Occupiers

I'm writing to send you not only my solidarity and support, but also my thoughts and encouragements, as you must be getting tired by now. Stay strong and hang in there--you're doing the most important work there is at the moment, and so very many students and staff around the country and the world are really behind you!

Lots of virtual strength and pizza and whatever else you need,

Anahid Kassabian
University of Liverpool

Twenty years ago I remember the protests at top private universities in the US for 'need-blind admissions'. The idea then was that if the universities were to maintain their status, and thus produce the newest knowledge and best leaders for the US, it could not make wealth a requirement for entry. Now, sadly, need-blind has to be a call for every and any university student. The best state/public universities have been raided, defunded, cut back. A new crop of 'technical colleges' subsist on the backs of students who cannot afford their loans. And the US is behind every other Western country in terms of the production of knowledge. Its leaders that benefited from need-blind access are in the process of eliminating the benefit for the future generation.

Certainly, this is not a history we need to relive elsewhere? I support the students occupying the building to prevent the fleecing of affordable education for all.

Dr. Vicki Mayer
Tulane University
New Orleans

This is a short message of support for the student occupation taking place in protest over education funding cuts.

With non-violent protest like yours taking place I think it’s impossible for the government to ignore the genuine anger we’re all feeling about the cuts. Along with the massive public demonstrations it’s amazing and inspiring to see how much some people are sacrificing for their beliefs. You’ve all got my support and I’m sure I’m just one of many, many thousands of people around the country who feel the same way – fantastic stuff.
Gurdeep Khabra
University of Liverpool

I know you must be tired but we all appreciate what your doing.

Jacky Waldock
Liverpool uni

Be realistic, demand the impossible.

Dave Harker

North East Shop Stewards' Network

Hey Folks,

I'm a grad student in the History Department at Duke University, in North
Carolina, USA. Just wanted to offer some words of support for your worthy
cause. Education must be affordable in order for it to be democratic, and I
admire your act of protest in response to the dramatic educational cuts going
on in the UK. There are many people supporting you and confident that your
efforts will be effective. Keep it up.

Risha Druckman

Hello to all occupiers!

You are doing a great job and offer messages of solidatry. If we keep going like this we can stop these education cuts and break the weak collision that has been forced on us


Plymouth Students Aganist Cuts

Dear occupiers,
I want to express my support for your courageous and inspiring action of resistance against the university cuts and the government's campaign to destroy the very notion of a public good and intensify the already intolerable inequalities that structure our society. Keep up the struggle!
In solidarity,

Alberto Toscano
Department of Sociology
Goldsmiths, University of London

Dear Students,

I wish you all the best with your struggle against the cuts in education funding in the UK. I was educated in the UK undergraduate system in the 1980s (University of Nottingham) and was also involved in union action for graduate student work benefits at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. I hope your occupation highlights to the general public and media the longterm social costs of this government's assault on the public sector.

best wishes


Dr Nabeel Zuberi
Senior Lecturer
Department of Film, Television and Media Studies
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dear Occupiers,

I send my support to you in your occupation. Your fight and that of students and anti-cuts activist around the country will succeed. We are many, they are few.

Keep up the occupation for as long as you can.

In solidarity,

John Illingworth
Former President of the NUT (2001-2002)

Hi I an writing to express my support. I am a member of the UCU committee at Liverpool and delegate to the Trades Council, which also passed a policy in November to support the student actions. As you mention other countires you may be interested in round up of international student actions from Argentina to the US and Europe - http://lavozlit.com/?p=1380

As you have asked for messages of support internationally I have sent your email to the student movement in the US, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Italy where I have contacts.

Best wishes

Martin Ralph

Hold on! I wish my students were doing what you're doing... I've heard so many terrible things about students being just a bunch of whingeing privileged brats who protest cos they think it's cool, and you have to continue doing this to show these people that there's more to this than smashing stuff and being cool, more of us must occupy and stop these profoundly ideological cuts from wrecking our education system! I'm a PhD student/Teaching Assistant, did my UG in Italy, fully funded, and I simply could not have gone to uni had I been born here, not even under the current system - let alone with the fees they're trying to introduce... - so I'm personally as well as politically grateful for those who are protesting against this, because this is the time to stand up and say no, not to keep calm and carry on!!

Keep at it, this will spread and the ConDem won't get away with this!


I understand that students at Bristol UWE are still in occupation. If so please pass on this message of support to all concerned and I hope the next day of national protest helps keep up the pressure on this disgraceful ConDem administration. Good on you all.

Sent in a Personal Capacity

Pete Bevis
National Union of Teachers; National Executive Committee member representing South Yorkshire

This morning I received a message from your lecturer Mark Bould asking for our support of your protest. I can tell you that everyone I know at the University of Liverpool, all those who protested and marched last Wednesday and those who are still protesting are completely behind you in your campaign. You have shown enormous dedication and effort to continue your stand into its second week and I hope the widespread opposition to the education cuts will continue around the UK and stop this huge mistake.

I am in my second year of studying Music/Popular music at the University of Liverpool and I do not wish future students to be unable to have the wide amount of opportunities that I have had and be burdened with an even greater debt. Thank you for all of your efforts and keep going!

We may be jealous of your snow Bristol but we are united in our fight against the government’s education cuts.

Duncan Smith

I would like to express my support and solidarity with the occupiers at UWE. I side with everyone who stands peacefully but firmly against the cuts in education spending and against a rise in the tuition fees.

As in the opening statement of our campaign Never send to know for whom the bell tolls. PhDs unite against the cuts!:

"We can, must and need to SAY NO to the cuts. And we have to do it together with all the other groups which will be hit most by the cuts – women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, workers in the public administration, undergraduate students. The more of us will express their dissent, the more effective our protest will be.

We reject the logic which sets education against health care; science against humanities; intellectuals against the working class. The real choice is between a fair and safe society, which values culture, solidarity and variety, and a greedy and unsafe world, in which no real space for free education and research is given.

We are for more public spending in research, tuition-free universities, freedom of thought and research, public welfare and more social fairness.


In solidarity,

Leo Goretti

PhD Student at the University of Reading and co-founder of the campaign Never send to know for whom the bell tolls. PhDs unite against the cuts

Hi All

I'm writing at the suggestion of one of the lecturers at UWE to offer what support I can from up here in sunny Liverpool. It's all words, I know, but I do think you're doing an extremely important job in what you're undertaking. You all must be feeling pretty battered by it all, but it's genuinely crucial work, so please please keep going as long as you can. I imagine you could also be feeling a little isolated too, but I know that many many people are behind you in this one; based on my recent emails, I know that people from around the world are as outraged as you about the cuts, so please know that you're representing a massive populus.

I'll try and post you some snacks...!

Dr Freya Jarman-Ivens
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Music
University of Liverpool

Greetings from the Leicester branch of the National Union of Teachers. Congratulations on maintaining your occupations in Bristol and in Leeds. The fight to stop the increase in tuition fees and defend the EMA is the same fight that we all have to prevent widespread, unnecessary cuts. I'm sure you'll agree that the continual sound of old Etonian millionaires telling us that we're all in it together is sickening. Well we are all in it together; we're all in the fight to defend state education. Good luck with your continued occupation and keep up the good work.
With best wishes
Ian Leaver
Divisional Secretary
Leicester NUT

Education and Health should be free! You are doing our best defending what rightfully belongs to you and to all future generations. Governments in Greece have backed off such changes after mass demonstrations and occupations!
Dr. Christina Adamou
Lecturer in Film Theory
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Hello UWE!

Congratulations on your occupation. Keep up the fight against the cuts,
against the abolition of education and the abolition of youth as we know
it. History will damn us if we don't.

In solidarity,

Michael Chessum

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Co-founder
UCL Union Education and Campaigns Officer (pc)

On behalf of Leicester National Union of Teachers, can I offer our support in your fight against the government's attack on higher education.

The raising of tuition fees, removal of EMA and the scrapping of Aiming Higher are designed to ensure that Higher education becomes the private preserve of the wealthy. We cannot allow that to happen.

Fraternal greetings.

Peter Flack (Assistant Secretary, City of Leicester NUT).

Hey there,

Just wanted to send you protestors a message of support - what the government of the UK is doing to higher ed is a disgrace. Keep on fighting the good fight, you've got Canadian academia with you in spirit. And if you need an air-drop of maple syrup (or any other more practical help), just say the word.

- Jessica Langer (Canadian, but with a UK PhD)

Dear All

I'd just like to express my support for your efforts in nonviolent
protest in response to the completely wrongheaded government policies
over universities. It is so typical to see politicians denying
opportunities to others that they themselves took for granted, and
there is no doubt that these measures will roll back social mobility
to where we were in the 1970s.


Dr Andrew M Butler
Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies
Canterbury Christ Church University

Dear Students,

I have hesitated to write to you because I have seen my colleagues around the world write stirring letters of encouragement based on their battles from the past, and I have no such stories.

But I realize this morning that I do have one word of encouragement for you: not a word of proof that these fights get won, but a word of your importance to the next round of fights around the world. Take heart not only because these fights have been won in the past, but also because the rest of us will soon be fighting these fights ourselves, and we will look to your efforts as inspiration. Fight to win now; fight to show us how to win tomorrow.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Sutliff Sanders
Department of English
Kansas State University

WELL DONE! Two weeks is a fabulous achievement, lots of strength to you all and keep in there! It is only gestures like this that could save us all.

Dr HOLLY ROGERS, School of Music, University of Liverpool.

Hi people, I think it's great what you are doing, I know that with all of the student protests, we'll make a difference!

Don't give up, know that every student in the country is behind you,

unlimited admiration from Liverpool

Simon Gelling

Dear occupying students

I am writing to express my support for your stand and the occupation. I am a lecturer at St Matts (Media and Cultural Studies). Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

best wishes


Dr Seth Giddings
Dept of Culture, Media and Drama

Dear Mark and Students:
I would like to put in a good word as well. I taught at University of London from 89-91 so I know the UK system and have been horrified to hear that yet more cuts are in the works.
I would like to recommend a wonderful Japanese animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki, arguably the worlds greatest living animator and, not incidentally, a man committed to ideals of political fairness and collective action. The movie is “Porco Rosso” and it’s about a former WW1 pilot who is so disgusted with humanity after the war that he turns into a pig. Yes—a pig. As Porco says about his transformation--”I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.” The movie is lighthearted, beautiful, and funny but it has a poignant subtext, summed up in the beautiful song his love interest sings at the heart of the movie. The song is “Les temps de Cerise” and it was the theme song of the Paris Commune in the 1870’s. Inspiring song. Inspiring movie.
Good luck and best wishes to all.
Susan Napier

Dear Mark and students:

Affordable higher education is under siege throughout the English-speaking world. The drive to "privatize" public education, to turn it more into a for-profit enterprise, has continued to erode the ability of working-class families to send their children to college, and for working-class parents to attend college themselves. I am the product of the public school and university system in California, and I know the opportunities I enjoyed as a young man would now be beyond my reach financially. The struggle in which you are engaged is crucial for your own futures, but it is also the front line of a battle to keep education affordable for the generations yet to come. Conservatives in Britain and the United States keep on cutting back, and cutting back, and their goal is nothing other than the elimination of affordable education and the destruction of disciplines and subjects that teach students to think critically. There is nothing more dangerous to powerful elites than educational opportunities for the working class. Please carry on with this important struggle, and know that the thousands of students and hundreds of professors here at California State University, Los Angeles are behind you.

And if you get bored, try acting out scenes from Doctor Who or Being Human. Or maybe just sing nasty songs about the PM. That guy does seem (from this side of the Atlantic) to be quite the douchebag.


Dr. Patrick B. Sharp, Professor and Chair
Department of Liberal Studies, CSU Los Angeles

Dear Occupiers

I had the privilege to visit the occupation at SOAS on Friday and want also to pass on my support and solidarity to Leeds and Bristol.

Your actions are helping to inspire an older generation to take action too.

Communities, students, youth and trade unionists acting boldly together can make this Government think again!

Martin Powell-Davies,
Member of the NUT National Executive for Inner London

Dear University of the West of England Occupants,

Haringey Solidarity Group supports your struggle against the cuts and rise in tuition fees.

The bankers and the rich created this crisis, yet the government are making the rest of us pay for it. Education should be a right for all, not just to the rich.

Keep up the good work!

Best wishes,

Aaron Blake
on behalf of Haringey Solidarity Group

Dear comrades

In the 1980s, you had Thatcher, and this was the beginning of the world's decline into neo-liberalism. In the 1990s and 2000s, in Australia, we had Howard, who put in exactly the same bunch of policies. What happens in the UK will generally happen to Australia a little while after—we are still a little colony stealing ideas from the northern hemisphere. We were shocked to hear of the reforms over here, not only because we know what it means for the education system and the entire culture there, but because we know that it will take place here if our government can get away with it

It has long been our mistake to negotiate and accept a conversation with bureaucrats in the pay of policies made by the elite. Too much! Bomb the fuckers with flowers, may their pores be full of the stench of capitalist corruption and the victory lie in the hands of people who care. Education is one way out ofallowing a country to becoming another victim to this corruption.

I know that sometimes from the insider, protests can be exhausting. But the bonds you are forming now will go on, your actions are all too rare and thus will be remembered, every strike action goes straight to the heart of the problem—you are making something that cannot be unmade.

With sincerity from Australia,

Darren Jorgensen
Lecturer, art history
University of Western Australia

Hello People,

Good luck with your occupation and I hope it makes some difference to the threat of cuts. I work at a regional university in North Queensland, Australia, where we've suffered cuts of course, but nothing like what threatens you.
As an old activist from past student days I'm thinking of you all.
And say hello to Mark Bould for me.

Sylvia Kelso

Hello guys,
I really admire what you guys are trying to achieve, keep on it and hopefully this ridiculous error will soon be corrected.


Hi Everyone

Just a quick note of thanks and best wishes before I go to bed on a cold Sunday night. Hope you are all well and in good spirits.


I just wanted to add my voice to those supporting the student occupation at UWE. If the cuts proposed by the coalition go ahead, they will cause massive and lasting damage to our universities, and to our cultural and artistic landscape. I think it is vitally important that people let the coalition know that their proposals are unacceptable. I have been very encouraged by the student display of solidarity and determination, and I can see the positive effect it is having on the political discourse. There is a backbench rebellion amongst lib-dems and the more the protests continue, the further this is likely to spread.

You have my full support.

John Parish

This kind of open, peaceful demonstration draws vital attention to the inequalities that the proposed plans will exacerbate - my congratulations!

Paul Williams
Exeter, UK

Dear Act at UWE

A message of solidarity from the undersigned at the University of Leicester School of Management for all your fantastic work to resist the invidious and outrageous activities of the university's senior management.

Please do let us know if there is anything more concrete we can do to help

In comradeship

Matt Allen
Maria Puig de la Bellacasa
Anoop Bhogal
Jo Brewis
Steve Brown
Juan Felipe Espinosa Cristia
Valérie Fournier
Jo Grady
Will Green
David Harvie
Nikos Karfakis
Mihalis Kavaratzis
George Kokkinidis
Dimitris Papadopoulos
Jeroen Veldman
Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto

City and Islington College‬‪
UCU Camden Road Branch

‬‪‬‪UCU Camden Road Branch sends a message of solidarity and support to occupying students as well as congratulations to all school, FE, and HE students for their magnificent demonstrations across the UK.‬‪‬‪‬‪

We demand the immediate withdrawal of these gross attacks on post-16 education and stand shoulder to shoulder with students who have once again demonstrated they are the conscience of the nation.‬‪‬‪‬‪‬‪


Andrew Strouthous‬‪, Branch Secretary

Sean Vernell‬‪, Co-ord Secretary‬‪

I would like to commend you for protesting your government's cuts to education funding. You have the right to an affordable education and so do the generations of students coming after you.

As we know from the American example, cuts to education can only weaken a people's ability to strive for a better life. I thank you for trying to stop this situation from happening in your country.

Curiously enough, I just happened to finish an article on the necessity of "real" activism--the kind you are doing-- versus the wishy-washy activism spurred by Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps its description of the commitment of the civil rights activists in Greensboro will inspire you. If not, it could make for interesting reading while protesting (??): http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all

Hoping that you win this battle,

Ximena Gallardo


I'd like to congratulate you on occupying the building at the UWE and pledge my full support for your fight against the cut backs in education, that unfortunately are being run all across the board. I have listened to people wondering why we don't fight back more in this country, especially when we see pictures of the people in Greece and France seeming so determined to defend the rights that were won by our forefathers in the working class. However, the student protests have been an example to all workers and certainly an inspiration to myself. When I have seen and read about how young people are responding to the cut backs that are to pay for the financial crisis caused by the bankers I feel reinvigorated and I know others feel the same. My Mum whose 50 years old was even asking when the next demonstration was in Manchester so she could take part and she has never taken part in political action before. Of course we know demonstrations are only the start and the anti-war movment has taught us that if that is where the action ends we will fail. More direct action, like you yourselves are taking is required and also for the fight back to be connected to the trade union movement and wider community. You people are leading the way and it is your example that others will be inspired to follow that will ensure we defend our hard fought benefits and begin to change the world for the better where profit will not be more valuable than people.

Yours in comradeship,

Karl Marsh

Sunday, 28 November 2010

U+WE future+focus = VC+employers-students-lecturers-?

> Reviews, restructures and slogans: what exactly is going on at UWE?
> A PhD student voices his opinion on a confused student climate, a perturbed staff union and the air of uneasiness...

Written by Benoit Dutilleul for The Western Eye (UWE's newspaper), published 8 Nov 2010

Every person who comes to UWE, and even more so you and I who study or work here, are bombarded by University marketing: mottoes such as ‘U+WE’ and ‘Better together’, the use of ‘+’ to connect two words (‘hello+welcome’, ‘helping+hands’, ‘real+dynamic’, ‘future+focus’, ‘people+planet’, ‘uwe+bristol’, ‘power+ideas’, ‘Bert+Jules’, etc.) or the omnipresent splashes of bright red. Such signs are increasingly sprinkled and spread everywhere and on everything: on UWE’s walls, at receptions where newcomers inevitably end up, on official prints, newsletters and email signatures, on UWE’s website, buses, presentations, in speeches by UWE managers, behind official pictures and in videos of UWE employees, on t-shirts of student ambassadors and student guides, on our badges, or on the desktop and screensaver of University computers.
“Better together” is the title of the University’s own awards, and the name of a charitable fund to help UWE students facing financial hardships. In order to clear space for this new brand, UWE’s marketing has requested faculties, departments and centres to stop using their existing promotion and communication tools. This uniform is part of what Steve West - UWE’s Vice-Chancellor - refers to as the ‘One University’ ethos/spirit. But what does ‘U+WE’, ‘Better together’ or ‘One University’ mean for him and for his small and closed group of advisors who make the decisions, and are currently rolling out a broad and deep restructure? And what does UWE’s current shift mean for the lecturers, workers and students who actually make up the University’s community? How do unfolding changes at UWE relate to larger political trends? And are we prepared to just wait and see what happens, as our University and the world spins along its current trajectory?

UWE’s ‘Better Together’ webpage gives a sense of what is officially meant by this expression. Accordingly, U+WE primarily means making partnerships between UWE (‘we’) and employers (‘you’), which UWE state are for the benefit of students, trying to extend the student experience outside the confines of the University.
The most recently celebrated of such partnerships binds UWE and the multinational Hewlett-Packard (HP), a relationship that has recently been brought to a new level. On this occasion, Nick Wilson, Managing Director of HP UK&I said: “this ground breaking initiative moves our relationship (...) to a deep and intimate partnership with the potential to deliver real outcomes for both HP, the University and, most importantly, for graduates so that we can ultimately offer them better prospects”. We may smile at Nick’s romanticism, but this corporation and our university are literally cohabiting at Frenchay and the couple are long passed the flirting stage. In the same news, UWE reports that “HP has also been appointed as the University’s strategic ICT partner to help develop a program of ICT transformation that will enhance both the student experience and teaching excellence at UWE”. What is going on seems quite clear, at least in this specific case. On the one hand, HP make deals with UWE and grow even larger markets of ready-to-use graduates to pick from for its ‘consumption’. On the other hand, our Vice-Chancellor (also a self-declared CEO) can be pictured shaking hands with another ‘real’ CEO, the message being: UWE is proactive at upholding its relatively good graduates’ employability scores. UWE=VC+employers...
The other side of the employability story has to do with students as potential employees. Employability is seemingly the primary aim of the Graduate Development Programme, though UWE argue that it is also to help students settle into their studies and succeed, and the University is now being streamlined to further intensify this orientation. But here is where the first source of anxiety appears from a student perspective. Should UWE management shake up its employability scores (better than other UK universities, with a 4% rise in graduate employment compared with a national 20% fall) when unemployment is expected to rise massively as a result of governmental cuts? Indeed, it is not only analysts who expect that the spending review will directly destroy half a million public jobs, slow down the country’s economy and have ‘indirectly’ a dire impact on employment in the private sector. Veronica Siobhan O’Hara, a psychology third year, has taken part in UWE’s ‘Aim higher’ partnership whereby students visit disadvantaged schools to encourage their pupils to aim for University. Referring to such trends, as well as the prospects of doubled tuition fees, she worries for not just for herself but also the kids she meets through this outreach programme: “Am I giving them a sense of false hope? Is this almost cruel?”

Veronica points to another broadly shared concern of students. On the 13th of October, one day after the publication of the Browne review, Mr. West’s comment on ITV was to welcome a recommendation to double the cap on tuition fees (though in a BBC interview he did say that the Comprehensive Spending Review was not pleasing, and that public funding should be available to universities). On ITV he described management’s plans in mechanical terms: tuition fees need to increase as much as public funding decreases. Never mind the students. Since UK universities could not accommodate 180,000 applicants this year, demand for Higher Education is so much greater than capacity that UWE, like other universities, can almost
do anything they want. As far as Mr. West is concerned, if this recommendation is adopted, he confirmed in the same interview that UWE will double its tuition fees. While this may soon impact current UWE students, this is even more worrying in the long run.
If those plans are enforced only students able to pay or willing to contract massive debts will get higher education. Gail Wilson, Vice-President of UWE’s Student Union (UWESU), notes the blatant injustice of that: “It’s ridiculous that those people who went to uni for free now decide that we pay out!”

The last main source of uneasiness for students arises from a diffuse sense that things have already gotten worse at UWE since last year, and that they are likely to get even worse! Yazan Abu Jbara, a student of English as a Foreign Language and Spanish, links this to lecturers’ anxieties resulting from the ongoing restructuring process passing on to students. According to him, “even though [lecturers] are professional and they are doing their best, the fear [of losing their job] is affecting their performance in the classroom”. Both Veronica and Yazan noticed that face-to-face contact time with lecturers has declined and that interactions now increasingly take place through Blackboard. “That’s not very consistent with a university that prides itself on ‘Better Together’!”, says Veronica. The impressions of those two students are more broadly shared, but Keith Hicks, UWE Director of Marketing and Communication, argues rather that Blackboard is an extra addition to teaching time, not a replacement. Two weeks ago, founders of the group “UWE students against the cuts” mobilised for a first student anti-cut rally with posters entitled: “No to UWEworsity”. This is not anecdotal. UWESU is still compiling a comprehensive analysis of students’ overall satisfaction but Gail Wilson says that there are “many more issues” than last year. She adds: “I don’t see how the University can guarantee or maintain the current student experience with the changes that are happening”. According to her, the restructure “will affect different students differently”, thus also directly contradicting Mr. West’s ‘One University’ ethos.
Students are given little information to make sense of what is going on and to put UWE’s restructure in perspective. On such crucial questions most students can only rely on vague individual feelings. To understand what may happen to UWE, we must turn to people who have been observing such trends and who have a more comprehensive analysis of how UWE works.
Peter Broks, Senior Lecturer in Popular Science at UWE and Vice-chair of UWE’s branch of the University and College Union (UCU) (representing university and college staff) points out that, according to the latest Guardian league tables, UWE is the 2nd university in the UK when it comes to “value added” even though it is 88th in terms of expenditure per student and 81st in terms of student/staff ratio, roughly in the middle of the table. Mr. Hicks states that the Higher Education Statistics Agency does not take in to account expenditure on guest and visiting lecturers, but Mr. Broks argues that nor does the Guardian’s league table. “Value added” is the difference that a university makes in terms of students doing better than would be expected from their A level grades. Simply put, it means that UWE is the place to be if you want to learn a lot, and since classes sizes are already big and the university spends relatively little per student, it is seemingly because lecturers do relatively a much better job than at other universities, a point on which UWE and UCU agree.
According to UCU that will no longer be possible if, as an outcome of the restructure, class sizes increase, contact time between lecturers and students is reduced, communication is shifted from face-to-face to digital interactions through (HP) computers and Blackboard webpages. UWE maintain that the restructure is designed to protect class sizes and increase contact time, but Mr. Broks is sceptical: “In some subject areas contact time will go down and class sizes up, especially those that are moving from St. Matts to Frenchay. I do believe they are tying to protect the student experience, but the point is to save money.” The situation will also worsen through further staff demotivation if lecturers are forced into lower grades, if time and money allocated for the research they are passionate about is drastically shrunk, or if they are given no other alternative than to take a position inadequate with their qualifications, expertise or interests. The University is creating 40 new H grade teaching posts which arguably puts the emphasis on teaching posts, but UCU believe these posts will be filled by demoted and demoralised ex-senior staff. This will then filter down if or when lower grade teaching posts are reviewed. For the time being, the situation will also keep decaying as long as all lecturers and staff fear for their jobs.
To summarise the situation from students’ standpoint: UWE is turning from a university into a job-training centre; quality of education, though NSS scores had improved until 2009, has started to worsen, and that’s only the beginning of what’s to come, while the cost of studies is going to double! UWE=VC+employers-students...
Meanwhile, lecturers are stressed out, overworked and often forced into what they perceive to be much less interesting jobs. UWE=VC+employers-students-lecturers...

But what is the restructure about in the first place? There are currently two main changes taking place. On the one hand, there is the restructure of management roles, including the amalgamation of five faculties into four. That is the process that requires what has been described as the ‘firing and re-hiring’ of Professors and Readers, as well as the entire layer of lower management teams.
That is what, understandingly, has stressed out UWE’s workers; threatening their livelihoods and their careers. The second major change process is the so-called “workload model”, increasing employees’ workload and leading UWE not to re-employ many Hourly Paid Lecturers (HPLs). This is what increases our lecturers’ work pressure, and this is noticed by students.
It is difficult to have an accurate idea of the extent of the damage. In fact, UCU has apparently had some difficulty making estimations; even staff have been left relatively in the dark about what’s going on. Mr. Broks says: “The only figures we have show that the model systematically underestimates the amount of work that academic staff do across the University by about 8 to 9%. Management have reassured us that the figure is closer to 5%, but even a 5% error would be unacceptable. If the model has a built-in 5% inaccuracy then that is roughly the equivalent of trying to add up all the departments and missing out all the work done in a whole department. Systematically underestimating work by 5% is the same as asking every member of staff to do an extra two weeks unpaid work. Of course, that’s unacceptable.” UWE has queried the accuracy of these figures, but Mr. Broks maintains that they are correct.
More interestingly, the restructure started early in 2009, way before the cuts and the doubling of tuition fees were hot on the national political agenda. The restructure is now justified with a rhetoric assuming that such changes are necessary to make savings, to be more cost-efficient so that ultimately the country’s debt and deficits can be reduced. Mr. Hicks argues: “To anybody in universities it was obvious back each spending at least a week to prepare applications to keep their jobs, that’s not cheap, but this is regarded as “business as usual” by management and so has not been included in the costings.”

So what is going on? Mr. West is restructuring, but the Browne report (tuition fees) or the Spending Review (cuts) do not seem to be the reason for that. He has said he wants to prepare UWE for big changes in higher education funding, but he doesn’t seem to be saving any money. He says UWE needs to be more efficient but he increased the number of managers from 63 to 72. What is going on? UWE marketers think that the slogan ‘U+WE / Better Together’ works as ‘internal rallying call’. However, based on the conversations I’ve had with students and staff, my impression is that such sentences have an insipid and increasingly bitter taste for people actually making up the UWE community. A bit like a shiny lollipop; red, attractive and synthetic, with a nasty aftertaste, just like UWE’s logo. The thing is that it’s not just about what management restructures but also how it does it. For example, early in August, 332 I and J grade academics received a letter announcing that their current job was gone and that they would have to re-apply for a new job and role in the (still largely unknown) structure. This must have put a dampener on their summer break! No wonder why they are getting cynical about management’s ‘better together’ rhetoric when they still know next to nothing about the details of the new structure; whether they have a chance to be part of it, how it will affect their career, or whether they should just abandon the wrecking ship and just focus on finding a job elsewhere. And guess what? Management also claims that the restructure will increase transparency and accountability, because the workload model is transparent and department heads will be held responsible for delivery students. This remains to be seen.
UWE’s increased focus on employability is part of a much older story, and follows the recommendations of a report that was published in 2007 (Burgess Group Final Report). The Spending Review and the Browne Review are part of a much older story of privatisation of universities in the UK and in the world. But what is the common thread of this story?
Guardian columnist and author George Monbiot argues that the financial crisis has been used as an opportunity to push through massive and understandingly unpopular neoliberal reforms while shrinking or simply killing funding for much needed social or ecological efforts. He thinks this is a case of Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism”: a case when governments use a disaster to advance capitalism even further. There is a lot of substantial evidence that this is happening.
The plan to double tuition fees means, if it goes through, that capitalism will have conquered twice the amount of a graduates’ life, since students will have to work twice longer to refund their studies. The increased focus on employers (who already consume graduates and contribute financially next to nothing to their training, except what they can benefit from) is another example.
The way UWE’s workers are treated as interchangeable or expandable commodities is yet another. And our university itself already looks even more like a business, since it shifted from a more faculty-based power structure to a more business-like single pyramidal hierarchy. In fact, as I previously said, Steve West even added ‘CEO’ to his title!
Our Vice-Chancellor and his clique of change managers are only pawns on a much larger political chessboard. But if we think of them as pawns, we may ask: what game are they playing and for whom? Vice-Chancellors and Universities across the UK are all concerned about the changes that are taking place at national level, but at university level, they react differently and adopt different strategies. For example, Professor Michael Arthur, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds publicly spoke out against the cuts. Southampton Solent University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Mike Wilkinson publicly criticised the recommendation to increase tuition fees and said it would have an adverse effect on social justice. At UWE, though, Mr. West is proud to say that he anticipated the cuts and states to journalists that though he thinks Higher Education should be publically funded, if it cannot he welcomes increased tuition fees. Mr. West believes there to be no alternative, but this seems a little defeatist. Do UWE management conceive education as a public good or as a private benefit that students need to pay for?
Moreover, even though management repeats that we are all in this together, and that we are “better together”, it is worth noting again that there are some contradictions between speeches and acts. Even though all the ‘most expensive’ workers at UWE have to reapply for new jobs that are likely to be lower, thus cheaper for UWE, there have been no talks of cutting UWE’s highest salary (Mr. West’s was £224,583 in 2008/2009 not including incomes from his Clinical Consultancy). Mr. West likes to talk of equity but he’s paid several times more than Professors on average, though not as much as some other VCs, and it is unclear whether he was subjected to the same “firing and re-hiring” procedures he is imposing on his staff. Management talks about increased transparency but neither UCU, nor most faculties and even less so UWESU and we students have information about what is happening. Mr. Hicks argues that students and representatives have been invited to meetings about restructuring proposals, and that UCU and SRC President Colin Offler sit on the board of governors, but this is unfortunately not information that filters down to the student body or UCU members effectively. Mr. West did give an interview to WesternEye in the first issue of the year, but he failed to give any specific reference to this massive restructuring program taking place. Thus, there is definitely a university-level dimension to the forthcoming struggle, even though there is also the need for a cross-sectorial and national resistance to the government’s attack on the public sector and on people living in the UK. The Spending Review’s damage to Higher Education is £4bn: next to nothing compared to the overall £81bn cuts planned for this shock therapy.

There is one last enormous contradiction between UWE’s rhetoric and reality I think is important to point out. In UWE’s ‘better together’ videoclip, Mr. West opens the show by saying: “One of the things that makes us very different as a university is the way in which we work in partnership with a whole variety of different organisations. That allows us to work very closely with employers, to really understand what it is they are looking for from graduates, and what it is they are looking for in terms of research answers to real world questions. Together, we begin to change how people think and how people work.” Immediately after him, professors and lecturers talk about sustainability and these “really big issues” that UWE is contributing to solve. Indeed, as most natural scientists whose research relates to ecological issues warn us, the Earth’s climate and her ecosystems are in a dire and rapidly worsening state.
However, as social scientists who have focused on such big issues have also long shown, the ecological crisis, like all the other major problems we are facing, are not so much technological and economical as a political, sociological and cultural.
To get a grasp of this, it is really worth taking a moment to read some relevant contemporary social science. How, then, can UWE graduates and researchers tackle effectively such broad and complex problems if, as Mr. West says, UWE “begin[s] to change how [we] think and how [we] work” in a manner that focuses everybody on employability, if humanities and social sciences teaching and research are slashed so that Universities hardly value anything else than what serves the economy, and if Universities become driven by competition and consumer-students?

No wonder why there is a sense of misunderstanding, confusion, panic, anger or even rage building up at UWE, in universities, in the public sector, in the country and beyond. No wonder also why many people start connecting the dots, increasingly organising and taking action on these issues. At UWE, people generally still seem to feel isolated and disempowered but some also start to be more explicit about their views, students and lecturers talk to each other about this, information starts flowing, and networks slowly link-up.
Outside UWE many new people are also getting involved and active. So if you don’t want this gloomy future to happen, now is the time to give whatever you’ve got!
Join the Facebook group: “UWE students against the cuts” or email (uwe.better.together[at]gmail.com - replace [at] with @) to be informed and involved with future activities. And hurry up to book your £5 bus ticket for the anti-cut Demo in London on the 10/11/10. Better in this together!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Even more messages of support and solidarity

Since our last post listing messages of support we have had a staggering number of further messages. It would be a colossal task to thank each of you individually and I am sure you would agree that our time could be better spent elsewhere given the fight we are tirelessly and continuously fighting. We our however eternally grateful and we continue to benefit from solidarity messages in terms of boosted morale and boosted energy. Please keep them coming.

I just wanted to send a message of support for your actions. Where you
lead, hopefully the rest of us in higher education will follow.

Best wishes


Dr Andrew Cumbers
Reader and Editor in Chief, Urban Studies Journal
Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences
University of Glasgow

Hi UWE Occupiers,

Sending a message of solidarity from Southend, bloody good on you for getting on and doing the right thing. The fightback begins.

In solidarity,

Doug Rouxel,
Chair, UCU South Essex College (Southend Branch)

I just heard about your occupation and wanted to say, "Well done, and the very best of luck!" I'll be joining you in the walkout tomorrow.

Steve Condliffe,
Training Manager,
University of Bristol

Congratulations on your occupation.

David Cameron has boasted that Britain has the fourth-biggest army in the world. In the latest spending review £15 billion pounds has been set aside to pay for the war in Afghanistan for the next 5 years. This is on top of the almost £20 billion already spent on invading and occupying Iraq & Afghanistan. At the same time students are being forced to pay huge increases in tuition fees, tenants face cuts in housing benefit and people are told they must work longer before they retire.

Protests like yours inspire us all to step up the fight against the government's cuts on all fronts and to get the troops out of Afghanistan.

Bristol Stop the War Coalition


I just wanted to let you you know that I fully support your protest against the intended cuts and reforms at UWE.

Kind regards,


Dr Casper Hoedemaekers
Lecturer in Organisation Studies
Cardiff Business School

Dear Students and Colleagues,
Your occupation and mobilization is showing us the way to resist the cuts not
only at the universities but also at the work places. Cuts in education and the
rise in tuition fees are neither neccessary nor rational from a social and
economic viewpoint. Education is a public good, should be free and has to be
financed by progressive taxes. You are now showing that cuts are also not
unavoidable, and we have an alternative.
In solidarity,
Ozlem Onaran, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Middlesex University


Its brilliant to hear you are in occupation and that so many other Universities are following suit, as well as FE and school students planning to walk out tomorrow over the savage and unnecessary cuts that the Con-Dem government are trying to push through.

The money is there - in the bankers, politicians and prinicpals bank accounts, paying for the war in Afghanistan, bailing out Vodaphone etc. They say we are all in it together - a complete lie! Cameron and Osbourne were sipping Don Perignon the night before they announced the cuts and then they couldn't stop smiling when they announced the cuts!

We have to fightback and its good to see students leading the way. It is not inevitable that they will win, there is everything to fight for it is only inevitable if we sit back and do nothing. So hopefully, UCU will be on strike soon and bring on a General Strike!

In solidarity,

Regi Pilling
(UCU Left Young Members Coordinator)

hi Fran from Ireland here ,we are all in this together so keep it up :)

We would like to congratulate you for taking a stand against the vicious cuts planned to funding for universities and to Education Maintenance Allowances. These cuts, if not stopped, will prevent poor people from going to university because we will not be able to afford it. The rich will not have the same problem. Therefore this is an assault on the working class.

Of course, it's not just education that's under attack. Masses of public and private sector job cuts are planned. Pay freezes are being implemented while the cost of living is rising. Pensions are under threat. At the same time, the Government is targeting unemployed people and punishing them in order to make them pay for the recession and for lack of jobs.

My trade union says it doesn't have to be this way. There is an alternative to the cuts. £120 Billion of tax goes avoided, evaded and uncollected each year. Simply collecting this tax would go a long way to tackling the budget deficit. The UK holds £850 Billion in banking assets from the bailout. We could use this money for the benefit of all of us.

Students, workers and all those opposed to the cuts need to support one another in order to ensure that we are not made to pay for a crisis that is not of our making.

Yours in Solidarity,

PCS DWP Avon Branch

I work in Student Support at UCP Marjon Plymouth – my husband teaches there and clearly as a small University with a strong remit to supporting Widening Participation we are at risk with the Condem policies…

Good luck to you all


Soli Greetings to you guys in England!

The students in Austria and in the whole world
are looking at your brave actions today!

We wish you big times success, our hearts and our feelings are with you!

Tomorrow, a big wave will spread the word all over England.

This is only possible because brave folx as you
are not scared to express your protest against
stupid and narrow-minded government policies.

All the best from Austria, we are big times supporting your efforts!

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'
Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy

Dear brilliant friends!

We congratulate you on your inspirational direct action and wish you every sucess in your righteous struggle against cuts. Billions can be found for banks and tanks, why not for education and the common people? 2009 saw the welcome return of an old tactic to the British political scene - the occupation. Student occupied, workers occupied against job cuts, parents, teachers and pupils occupied against school closures. All these little struggles are part of a bigger struggle for a more humane world that puts people before profit: The seeds of the new society are being sewn in the battle with the old . . . BRING ON THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT!

Dare to struggle!
Dare to win!


Adam Johannes
Cardiff Stop the War Coalition

Dear Occupying students,

Your actions are an encouragement to the millions who have heard about what you've done and are strengthened by the knowedge that people are fighting back.

Best regards,

All at Anticuts.org.uk

In support of your pain and acknowledging the poor regimes of punitive management of educational institutions globally - and in the fear that it will be us next!

Lecturer in Primary Education
School of Education
Southern Cross University
NSW Australia

Solidarity from a member of staff and UCU member at King's College London.

Keep it up guys!


Dear students at UWE,

You have my full support. Your struggle is inspiring and much needed for defending university education as a public good.

"Soyez réaliste, demandez l'impossible".

Warm regards,

Dr Maria Rovisco
Faculty of Arts
York St John University

Dear Student Anti-Cuts Protesters,

Thank you. You are an inspiration. You have lit the blue touch paper. But now is not the time to stand back.

I was proud to be part of the tremendously successful Edinburgh University-led protest and occupation yesterday. There was a huge turn-out for an Edinburgh protest, and the sudden occupation of the university took everyone by surprise. I am not a student: I'm currently a benefits claimant, and was marching with the Edinburgh Campaign Against Poverty. One of the reasons I am most proud of the Edinburgh protest is that it made an active effort to work in solidarity with workers, benefits claimants, and all others affected by the cuts. As in London, we were all also delighted and impressed by the number of school students who came too. This is an aspect a number of the University anti-cuts campaigns are missing, and that's what I'm writing to you about now.

Your struggle is not isolated. You are not alone. All those affected by the cuts – workers, claimants, families, everyone – should be proud of you and impressed by you, because you have with rage and love and energy led the charge against these repressive and unnecessary cuts. Workers are being betrayed by the TUC just as students are being betrayed by the NUS: currently so many in Britain are waiting and hoping for organisations to work for cross-class struggle against the cuts. You can contribute to that.

This government, for all its flimsy rhetoric, is incredibly powerful. States are powerful. You do not win a fight against a state, with all its apparatus of power – from police who beat us up to teachers who punish schoolchildren for their brave protest “truancy” – unless you work across social groups, across classes, in solidarity with the huge diversity of people who are struggling with this government.

University student protesters, you are privileged. Many, if not most you, have far more financial freedom and time than many affected by the cuts (though certainly you will suffer terribly from them); many of you are white, or male, or have other markers of privilege. It is easier for you to protest and occupy than it is for many, because you will face less repression and have more freedom, and so you have a responsibility to use that power for others.

So do not let your struggle against fees be compartmentalised. Do not let the anti-cuts fight be divided. Go out and meet with trade unions, with workers and their councils, with disability and LGBTQ rights groups, with women's groups, with those fighting for their benefits, with everyone who is affected by the cuts. None of us will win alone. Together, we can. Do not be parochial. Do not let your struggle be the only reported struggle, and do not waste the power you have.

This is not to say that you must come and rescue the struggling poor or oppressed minorities. That would perpetuate structures of privilege and oppression. What I am saying is that you are organised, and that you are starting to be heard, and that all the other organised groups who have to struggle harder to be heard need you to work for them.

Be strong. Use your privilege. Extend your fight. Make it stronger. Show solidarity – but also be active in your solidarity. I say this without pretension or apology for sincerity: your country needs you.

This letter has been written quickly and not gracefully. It is propaganda. It is flawed. I am currently too busy working and fighting to spend much time writing the philosophical arguments and journalistic analyses. But you can find those elsewhere and I will link to as many as I can find as soon as I can; there are people struggling and writing on all fronts. I am not the only voice telling you this. I am not the only voice asking for your help.

We are already together. We are already strong. Onwards!

Harry Lodestone

Dear occupiers,

On behalf of the Education Activist Network, we would like to express our solidarity with your occupation. The student movement has a proud history of direct action and civil disobedience, and the attacks on our education from the Con Dem government require this on a scale.

We think it is important that activists involved in the different occupations – and in other actions such as the college and school walkouts – have a chance to compare their experiences and share ideas. More important still is that we have a chance to coordinate our resistance at a national level, to build a movement that can really threaten the government’s agenda.

To this end the Education Activist Network is organising a national student coordination meeting in London this Sunday. We very much hope that a delegation from your occupation can attend.

In solidarity,

Education Activist Network

Hi you all,

Well done. We support you wholeheartedly and hope to visit soon with supplies. Please keep going - this fight isn't just yours - we are in it together.

All the best,

Bev, Jim, Ben & Harry

You have my sympathy and can only hope such actions as yours will make the government get their priorities right!
Mike Hodges

My support and best wishes to you all, on this cold night. You're doing the right thing.

Gwyneth Jones

Dear UWE anti-cuts students,
it is great that you are showing your support for future students in this
way. It is deplorable that the coalition is trying to eradicate public
higher education. I see your actions as a really positive and generous
action at a time where everyone is being asked to be self-interested. Your
actions are principled and look towards a future fairer society. Wishing
you well and thank you for fighting for all our futures.
Ben Highmore, University of Sussex

Dear UWE students,

I send this message in solidarity with your important action against funding cuts to higher education in your country. We are living during an extremely difficult time in which market logic is destroying much of our civil society, and these moves to make education a privilege of only the wealthy threaten to undo the political work of the past century. Your initiative and dedication in standing against these changes are greatly to be admired, and are the real source of hope for our future. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

Sherryl Vint, Associate Professor, Brock University, Canada

As a professor of philosophy, film studies and as a researcher in the field of educational sciences, I am very much concerned because of what is happening at the universities all over Europe. Your protest therefore represents one of the critical points among efforts to preserve production of knowledge and a level of it’s transmission.

Best wishes


We, the individuals and groups listed below, offer our solidarity and support for the action(s) taken yesterday and the continuing occupations in Bristol and across the country.

The raising of Tuition fees, the cutting of Housing Benefit, Legal Aid and many other Social Benefits will cause hurt to many across the social spectrum. Mainstream Politicians and Media are already attempting to segregate and split an as yet unformalised, genuine coalition of the aggrieved.

One way to counter this attempt at division is if we refuse to criticise or condemn differing tactics, even if we privately disagree with them, and offer support to those arrested, suspended from university, or their jobs due to action taken.

Whilst many of the undersigned have doubts about the role of “The State” in our lives, we don’t seek to monopolise or take over protests to use as our own platform. Rather, we commit to engaging in spaces of protest and dissent as a means to debate and decide our common future(s).

We also call on those trade union members who are unhappy with their leaderships’ inaction on the cuts to engage with and support these protests which are currently the most vocal and visible challenge to the ConDem coalition.

Bristol No Borders

Bristol ABC

Cave Street Factory (Social Centre)

Dear Students,

I'm writing to express my support and solidarity for your protest of the cuts to UK higher education. It's great that you're making your views known and sticking up for the value and necessity of affordable university education.

All the very best to you,
Diane Negra

Professor Diane Negra
Head of Film Studies
School of English, Drama and Film
University College Dublin

I write to support the student protest of unreasonable university fees.

While there is of course no unequivocal way to reconcile budget deficits and spiraling expenses, the scientific data has shown time and again that the very best investment a culture can make in its own economic best interest is in education.

Small increases in fees might well be acceptable. Trebling fees is not.

Yours sincerely,
--Neil Easterbrook

Neil Easterbrook
Associate Professor
Department of English

well done for taking a stand for the future of higher education; it is students like yourselves that make me think there is hope for us yet :o)

Simone Knox, Lecturer in Television at the University of Reading

Mark Bould has let a number of us know about your on-going occupation in protest of the severe and unnecessary public education budget cuts currently being proposed across the U.K. I hope you know how many people appreciate the work you're doing -- these sorts of cuts need to be opposed wherever they crop up, and the international academic community as a whole benefits greatly from local actions such as yours. There are a lot of us in solidarity with you.

I've forwarded news of what you're doing on to my own colleagues at Duke. Good luck with the occupation, and thank you.

Gerry Canavan, Program in Literature, Duke University, USA

To the Students at UWE:

I am writing this in support of, and solidarity with, your efforts to protest, oppose, and overturn the unconscionable cuts in support for higher education, and imposition of outrageously high tuition fees, currently proposed by the UK government. In working for the recognition of affordable access to education as a public good and a basic human right, you are not only seeking to assure your own futures, but also protesting on behalf of generations of students to come, and of students elsewhere -- such as in my own country -- who are threatened with similar prospects, if nothing is done to resist what is happening in the UK now. Be aware that the world is watching, and supporting your actions and your struggle.

In solidarity,
Steven Shaviro DeRoy Professor of English
Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan, USA

Dear UWE occupiers (and all the student protestors – the list of occupied unis keeps growing!)

I write in support of your occupation, and wish you and all the other protestors across the UK the best of luck with your campaign.

I’m old enough to have experienced a brief utopian space in Australia where, for a few years, higher education was totally free.
We won’t see that reality again, but we can still dream, and protest the continuing devaluing of our education, knowledge and the arts.

Continue to fight the good fight and keep your spirits up! If you need some good reads then your very own Gwyneth Jones offers up some revolutionary reading in her ‘Bold as Love’ series (and its free online - http://www.boldaslove.co.uk/). Crank up the Billy Bragg (who I understand has been in touch with student protestors), and maybe even some Hendrix.

I’m following and retweeting all the reports of occupations on twitter #solidarity and at http://anticuts.com/

Best of luck,


Dr Helen Merrick
Senior Lecturer, Department of Internet Studies
School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts
Curtin University
Western Australia

It is dangerous and difficult to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire

In solidarity with your struggle,

Karim Wissa
Duke University - Literature Program
PhD Student
Durham, North Carolina
United States

Dear Students,

I wish you all the best in your occupation of a university building in opposition to the potentially devestation cut-backs to the UK education sector. I understand that your protest is now into its second week, and I am sure you are all sick of the sight of the wallpaper by this point. However, I am sure that your efforts have been noted and I hope that a positive resolution will be reached if other student groups follow your lead and make their frustration heard in the same peaceful yet impassioned manner.

Best wishes,

Dr. John Berra
Nanjing University


I'd like to offer my support to your students. As a beneficiary - like almost all of the government - of subsidised, grant-supported higher eduction, it makes my blood boil that the current regime, like the last one, has striven to take away the opportunities they were able to take advantage of.

Someone has to stand up to the current dangerous, lunatic and frankly evil policies which are being deployed against people who are entirely innocent in the crisis that is supposedly being addressed. I'm sorry that it has to be this generation.

very best wishes

Kim Newman

Congratulations and thanks for taking direct action to influence this critical moment in history. Your actions and all other actions like them cannot be understood except as part of a larger struggle—sometimes called globalization—which consists of an assault on all the democratic and progressive achievements of the past two centuries, instigated by a small fraction among us in control of a great deal of money and power. All of the so-called "austerity measures" we are seeing around the globe function to shift more control and power from public to private—they are attacks on "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," and need to be resisted as such. Nothing is as effective in this kind of democratic resistance as real people gathering in real places to practice civil disobedience or satyagraha in the tradition of Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. Privatized power shivers in the face of such active popular resistance, because it demonstrates what could so quickly become a much larger phenomenon of resistance and change, created by citizens working for themselves and for future generations. Education is not a commodity but a human right. Best of luck to you all, I will be thinking of you, and if you need some paperback science fiction novels to occupy you during your time at work for us all, I have just the thing and can airmail a box of them to you.

thanks again, Stan
Kim Stanley Robinson

Dear UK students affected by the proposed education cutbacks in Britain:

I wish you all the best in your protests against these unconscionable and uncalled-for cutbacks in the higher education system. As someone who led the Teaching Assistant "revolt" at UCLA Film School back in 1979-80, I can only hope that you will achieve the same result that we obtained back then: the granting of all our demands.

Short of that happy outcome, I urge you to continue your efforts to inform the general public and concerned parents, students, administrators, law makers, and future students about the huge tuition increases on the horizon, and the short-term and long-term effects these actions will have on on the UK.

Here in the U.S.A., many public and private institutions have also instituted cutbacks and tuition increases, but none that I know of approach the scale mentioned in Mark Bould's announcement. In many cases, given these grim financial realities, the "best and the brightest" of Britain's youth may decide to emigrate abroad for their educations, and take their brains with them permanently!

Internationally, education often is one of the first items to be cut in "hard times," but it is not even "penny-wise" to do so, although it is certainly "pound foolish." I'm certain that I do not have to provide you with rationales and arguments to make a logical case in opposition to these education cuts and tuition increases.

What I can provide, though, is a morale boost of sorts from "across the pond." In my academic life and experience, I've won a few such battles (and lost a few) but I know this: if you relent and give up too soon, you will certainly not attain your goals, both for yourselves and for your posterity. As Winston Churchill famously said to the students at the Harrow School in 1941:

Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Best wishes to all,

Frank P. Tomasulo, Ph.D.
Professor of Film Studies
City College of New York, City University of New York

To the students protesting budget cuts at the University of the West of England:

This is a message of support from California, where the state university system has been devastated over the past two years by budget cuts, service rollbacks, and fee increases. Our students have angrily mobilized against these wrong-headed initiatives that only serve to punish the future for the past's mistakes. In some cases (such as a recent protest of the University of California Regents' meeting in San Francisco), this has resulted in clashes with police, arrests, and charges. The media attention drawn by these protests has had an effect, however, and as a result of this pressure, over $300 million will be restored to the state education budget next year. While your actions may seem small and isolated, you are part of a community of young people who refuse to allow their horizons to be narrowed and their options foreclosed by shortsighted "austerity" measures. You are not alone.

Rob Latham
Associate Professor of English
Coeditor, Science Fiction Studies
English Department
University of California

Dear students

Good luck with your occupation in protest against these vicious cuts in UK higher education. It's a long time since I was last a student, even longer since I last occupied a university building. But I do remember how, after the initial excitement, there is a tendency for boredom to set in. Reading helps, in my experience. Iain Banks's short story, 'The State of the Art', should cheer you all up. Or anything by Kim Stanley Robinson. Dare to struggle, dare to win.



Professor Andrew Milner
Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
School of English, Communications and Performance Studies
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia

I want to congratulate you on your occupation at UWE - let's hope that more students will follow your example around the country in the days and weeks ahead.
You are taking a stand in what is a fork in the road for HE - if the ConDem government gets away with its plans, it will destroy University as an affordable option for many many people for generations to come.
I hope that the example of students of all ages in not accepting this vandalism will help push the University and Colleges Union into a more robust defence of the sector than it has done so far.
thanks you and keep it up.
Michael Wayne
Brunel University

The British students resisting the savagely reactionary education cuts by the Cameron-Clegg government are among the heroes of the global fight against attempts to make ordinary people pay for the economic crisis caused by the stupidity and greed of the very rich. In 1968, protesters against the Vietnam War chanted, "The whole world is watching," as they were attacked by rioting police outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. That is even more true today.

Carl Freedman
Professor of English
Faculty, Program in Film and Media Arts
c/o Department of English
Louisiana State University

Good on you all
Solidarity and warmest wishes to all students and supporters in occupation, hope you are keeping warm with lots of warm-blooded meetings and debates.


Comradely greetings

Sam (Eastbourne)

Keep it up! Well Done.

Dr Colette Balmain

Dear students,

I hear you’re entering the second week of peaceful protest at UWE. I can imagine that this is all very exhausting, so I just wanted to say WELL DONE for taking a stand for Higher Education, and please KEEP GOING! It is students like yourselves that make me think that there is a future for Higher Education in this country after all.

In solidarity and friendship,
University of Reading

Comrades, pleased to read of the action you have taken. Keep going as more and more people are supporting you.


Hello all!
Well done for the fantastic occupation, keep up the hard work!!

Love and solidarity from the Royal Holloway anti cuts alliance rhacc.wordpress.com

Please accept my good wishes in your struggle against the systemic attack on the university (and by extension the entire public sector) in Britain. I'm writing from the States where the recent national election will mean similar intensified attacks (even in the historically progressive state of Wisconsin where I worked for so long, and where I helped occupy both the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University student unions in the long struggle against racism and imperialism); and this week I'll be returning to my home in Ireland where the new budget and EU strictures will catalyze similar public sector/education eviscerations.

You are not in isolation. We are all engaged in this together. There are alternatives to the reigning system. But you are on a front line, and I join with others in wising you courage and commitment. I agree with Frank Tomasula's advice, never give up, no matter what the apparent liberals may promise you to "diffuse the situation." You have more power than you may realize.

When I was in Milwaukee last month at the Society for Utopian Studies conference, I gave a paper on "The Milwaukee Movement as Concrete Utopia," in which I linked the movements of the 60s/70s with the current struggle. While I think Andrew Milner's recommendation of an Iain Banks short story may provide more compelling reading, I attach my paper for your interest, and in your support.

In solidarity,
Tom Moylan

Emeritus Professor, School of Languages, Literature, Culture, and Communication
Executive Director, Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies
University of Limerick

Please express my best wishes to the students, and convey how gratifying it is that they are standing up for their principles and for the right of the next generation of students to study humanities. They are making a difference and sending a clear and necessary message,


Lee Barron

Dear All,
Professor Diane Negra has made me aware of your struggle against the unspeakably awful cuts to funding for education that are being contemplated. I want to tell you that I support your struggle and hope that some accommodation can be worked out that will keep a reasonable amount of money available for allowing students to continue their higher education.

I am the author of five academic books about film and media, No End to Her: Soap Opera and the Female Subject; The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood; Screen Couple Chemistry: The Power of Two; Dying to Belong: Gangsters in Hollywood and Hong Kong; and World on Film: An Introduction. I am now an Associate Editor of Cineaste magazine, but I spent over two decades as a professor of film and literature at New York University, and Mercy College and I know what you are up against. What you are doing is exhausting, but now is the time to fight, not after decisions are final. May you look back on a good fight well won.

I wish you success.

All best,
Martha P. Nochimson

Again we would like to reiterate how important these messages of support are to us. We recognise not only the national nature of this struggle, but the international level and in it we stand along side you all.

In solidarity,

UWE Education Camp

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fantastic Lineup of Talks Today - Not to be missed

Planned teach-ins at Education Camp (formerly Core 24) for Friday November 26th.

15:00 Shackle 'em early: Student debts and fight back

With student debt already our of control and set to sky rocket if the con-dem government's plans go through, how will this effect graduates' prospects? Is there an agenda behind an indebted work force? How can we combat being lumbered with vast debts?

17:00 Resistance at all costs?: Violence and the movement

With special guest speaker David Graeber

A reader at Goldsmiths on social anthropology that has worked extensively on value theory, and has recently completed a major research project on social movements dedicated to principles of direct democracy, direct action, and has written widely on the relation (real and potential) of anthropology and anarchism joins us to discuss the fight back against cuts.

20:30 (previously advertised as 19:00) Resistance & militancy: Where do women fit in?

In the midst of massive ongoing resistance to the planned education cuts & restructuring of our educations, much of the media have taken a glib view of women's participation and leadership within the movement. Is it unusual for women to resist in such militant actions? Do women prefer 'softer' forms of protest? How do feminist politics fit with larger protest movements?

For more information follow our twitter @uweagainstcuts , email uwe.better.together@gmail.com , or come visit us at the Education Camp. Hope to see you there.

UWE Occupation Rages On!

A lot has been happening since our last blog post; lots of progress, lots of victories.

On Wednesday UWE students were leading from the front in a fantastic demonstration in Bristol City Center. Around 5,000 students turned out to protest raised fees and education cuts. Many, indeed the majority, were Further Education students which was brilliant to see. Protesters were very peaceful and non-violent, the same unfortunately cannot be universally said of the police, many of who's actions we condemn (more on this will likely follow soon). As part of that day's action several hundred students stormed the Bristol Student Union building after being refused entry. Students from UoB established an occupation there but left the following day after all their demands were met.

Yesterday we met with a representative from Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance and have arranged with them to organise students Bristol wide; from UWE, University of Bristol and the number of colleges and schools in the city. We will build on the momentum created by Wednesday's demonstration and keep this movement pressuring harder and harder on the ConDem government.

UWESU's Annual General Meeting also took place yesterday. Our group had submitted a number of motions and we are ecstatic that two very important ones were passed. The union resolved to support occupations around the country, including the UWE Education Camp, and adopt opposing fees and cuts as its primary campaign for the next three years. Furthermore it was resolved that the union would pressure UWE management into making their spending plans and priorities public and explicit with the implicit aim of defending Arts and Humanities. These are important successes but only a beginning.

On Tuesday the 30th there is another national day of action.


More details will follow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Royal Holloway Occupation

The Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance has occupied the picture gallery corridor in the Founder’s building. 40 students descended on the administrative wing where
senior management were holding a meeting in the boardroom, to be joined shortly by more supporters and SU representatives. The Alliance received the immediate support of administrative staff and local PSCOs while issuing a statement of Alliance principles and list of demands to all staff. Principal Paul Layzell and Vice Principal Geoff Ward were issued the demands as they came out of the meeting and accepted the invitation to take questions related to the impending education cuts.
Layzell conceded that 80% were “not survivable” and referred to the cut in international students as “kicking us while we’re down”. When asked why they weren’t speaking out against the Browne review, Vice Principle Geoff Ward said of the union Universities UK, “We did speak out against the cuts but weren’t as successful as we would have liked.”
Occupants felt the management’s tone was defeatist and implored the Principal to use his position to put up a stand. Layzell said they would “reflect of it” and said they were in dialogue with the 1994 group, the University of London and Universities UK.
The Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance has been receiving a constant flow of support and solidarity from university anti-cuts groups, trade unions and campaign organisations from across the country. They are later going to be joined by some
staff for a “teach-in” as well as members from Save Our Services in Surrey.
Students will continue the sit-in until their demands are met.

News form Italy ::occupations : actions : wild demos:: uniriot.org

In these days students of italian universities are shouting their dissent
against the education reform which is going to be approved in the next two
days at the Parliament.

Mobilizations and occupations are spreading all over Italy: seven colleges
are occupied in Pisa, four in Rome, two in Palermo, one college in Turin is
occupied by one week, actions, wild demos and blocked of the lessons are
taking place in all italian university.

In Rome, researchers have occupied the architecture College in the very
centre of the city.

Tomorrow all the students will besiege the Parliament trying to stop the
approval of the reform.

video, photos and more infos on www.uniriot.org

Workshop: The Humanities and the Idea of the University

NEW DATE for ‘The Humanities and the Idea of the University’, Philosophy Department, Middlesex University

The Middlesex workshop on the Humanities will now take place on TUESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2010, 11am-6pm, Saloon (M004), Ground Floor, Mansion Building, Middlesex University, Trent Park campus, Bramley Road, London N14 4YZ.


Christian Kerslake
Introduction: Philosophy, the Humanities and the University

Andrew McGettigan
How will Willett’s ‘New Providers’ affect the Arts and Humanities? Independents, For-Profits and External Degrees in the Proposals for Higher Education

Dave Hill
Education and Resistance in/under Capitalism


Break for Lunch

Johann Hoiby, Alfie Meadows, Maria-Louise Rosbech
Student Reflections

Andrew Goffey
Stupidity and the University

Matthew Charles
Philanthropy and the Image of the University

Discussion & Coffee

Mark Kelly
Resisting the Bureaucratisation of the University

Marina Vishmidt
The Humanities and the Location of Value in the University


* * *


What are the Humanities, and what are they for? What is a university, and what is it for? Is it possible to stipulate that Humanities education is an essential component of what a university does, or should be doing? How can the links be reinforced between Humanities education and principles of universality and equality?

In her recent book Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities (Princeton, 2010), Martha Nussbaum argues that “thirsty for national profit, nations, and their systems of education, are heedlessly discarding skills that are needed to keep democracies alive. If this trend continues, nations all over the world will soon be producing generations of useful machines, rather than complete citizens who can think for themselves”. She presents a case that Humanities education is essential to the cultivation of critical thinking, reflection and empathy with others.

How, then, to effectively defend Humanities education? At this current juncture, is it possible to effectively defend the Humanities and higher education without also calling for an overall reform of the economy?

In the past five years Middlesex University has abandoned teaching and research in two key Humanities subjects, History (closed in 2006) and Philosophy (admissions stopped in 2010). It appears to be on course to reduce all of its Humanities provision. This workshop will be a forum for lecturers and students to discuss the future of the Humanities at Middlesex and in the UK in general.

The workshop is co-organised by Andrew Goffey (a.goffey@mdx.ac.uk) and Christian Kerslake (c.kerslake@mdx.ac.uk). Attendance is free, but please register atmdxhumanities@yahoo.co.uk.

Tube: Piccadilly line to Oakwood station, free bus to campus.


The quality of our education at UWE is rapidly worsening. There are two major reasons for this. Firstly, it is a direct consequence of the implementation of the ‘Restructuring Project’ (its goals and processes) since the beginning of 2010 resulting in stress, tensions and work intensification of staff. Secondly, the government has recently proposed massive budget cuts across the public sector, including education and universities while talking about doubling or even tripling tuition fees.

Both initiatives, UWE-level and national, if they go through, will have a dire impact on education, students and lecturers at UWE and other universities. More specifically, these cuts will increase injustice, widen inequalities and intensify suffering across the country.

Despite growing protests such as demonstrations across the country, petitions and occupations of universities, no elected or responsible organisational or national ‘leaders’ are taking adequate measures to challenge the above-mentioned policies (UWE-level and national) and defend the interests of students, workers, jobs, universities or our educational values or the public sector. We have therefore taken responsibility for our own education and our future by setting up a ‘camp for education’ inside UWE’s Frenchay Campus at Core 24 to oppose the restructure, cuts and fees. 

Last night, the assembled students decided to keep the camp running to raise awareness about these issues, further discuss, work and organise at least until the national student walk out against cuts and fees on Wednesday 24th. We do not wish to interrupt academic activities (e.g. lectures, library services, research, etc.) at UWE during the occupation.  The camp is our working space intended to provide all the students and the UWE community at large with an opportunity to exchange views, learn about and engage in the camp’s activities.

Amongst the various university-level issues that were raised, participants repeatedly expressed their disagreement with a conception of a university which is largely and increasingly focused on ‘employability’ and this mysterious notion of the ‘Student Experience’ (i.e. irreversible marketisation of higher education).

We think that the idea of ‘student experience’ leads to a shallow, individualistic, consumerist and market-based education. Moreover, it serves to justify increased tuition fees, to rationalise the logic of proposed cuts in education, to antagonise students and academics and, specifically, to facilitate a damaging restructuring at UWE.
We think that our university should not solely provide career training and prepare students to solve problems defined by employers, but that it must also prepare all students for an active and rich civic life and for the major political, institutional and ecological crises we are facing. This reductionist process is contradictory to the essence of universities as spaces for debate, critique and democracy.

Following the first evening of discussions, the camp has formulated and agreed its first list of demands directed at university-level. We demand that today’s meeting of the Board of Governors:

1)      Starts questioning the inevitability of proposed cuts in Higher Education and increased tuition fees and informs students about the concrete actions that they are taking in engaging with and challenging the government policies.

2)      Opposes systematically and proactively the following government policies in all relevant non-governmental fora including the press:
a.      The increase in tuition fees,
b.      The cuts  in education and other public services,
c.       The withdrawing of all government support for humanities and social sciences,
d.      The abolition of EMA which puts even further education and sixth form study beyond the reach of many less well off students,
e.      Selective funding of research (i.e. supporting only engineering and science at the detriment of other disciplines). 

3)      Works with the camp for education to facilitate a conference for students, academic staff and management in which we can develop a shared conception of education for our university.

4)      Withdraws the damaging proposal to downgrade and remove academic staff which severely threatens the quality of teaching and contact hours available to students.

5)      Immediately abides by recognising the agreed dispute procedures by moving to status quo ante

6)      Takes immediate action to start negotiations with UCU, to facilitate and to settle a quick resolution of the above-mentioned dispute.

7)      Retains all existing Masters Programmes, and take concrete steps to defend existing levels of undergraduate teaching in arts, humanities and social sciences.

8)      Reconsiders all plans that would lead to reduced internal investment into research activities of the staff.

9)      Reconsiders all plans that would affect our education through intensification of work of UWE staff (in particular resulting from the roll out of the new workload model and the restructuring process).

10)  Immediately stops using the notion of ‘student experience’ in all university communications and policies as it simply does not represent the voice of us, students.

11)  Instead of enforcing such an individualistic and consumerist notion (of ‘Student Experience’), management should shift the discussion toward a more inclusive concept of educational VALUES in order to preserve and foster the societal nature and purpose of Higher Education and the interdependency between students and academic staff.

12)  Reduces the emphasis on ‘employability’ as the main focus of our education.

13)  Responds to all (individual and collective) requests for information and provide access to all documents related to the management of our university.

14)  Reinstates funding for all students to participate in well-established events and study trips.

15)  Establishes a time limit by which to enforce the implementation of the agreements following the 2008 Palestine occupation.

16)  More generally, agreements and proposals from management shall mention a time limit by which they shall be enforced.

17)  Not only ensures that no aggression, interference or disturbance will take place against the camp for education, but also takes measures to facilitate our work when appropriate.

18)  Undertakes no victimisation of students and staff taking part in this occupation, Wednesday’s walk out or any future actions in support of our university and education.

We urge UWE management to recognise that our university is NOT a corporation driven by business principles alone but an institution of Higher Education which promotes and is guided by a combination of economic, cultural and social concerns.

Finally, we warmly invite University Management, the board of Governors, like all other members of the University community to join us in the camp and participate in this process. Let’s work together to find better solutions for the future of our university and act in solidarity with the broader movement against cuts and fees.