Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Newsletter

Hi everyone!

I hope that this message will all find you happy, healthy and inspired. I took the initiative to put together this newsletter following a number of discussions with some of you and since it seems that we won't have any opportunity to have any substantial meeting before January. There are a few really important topics in this newsletter so please take a bit of your time to have a look at it and follow-up if you can! Thanks :) 'Pedro'



Since we took off without having the possibility to have a comprehensive discussion and a debriefing, in order to have some basic feedback, enable a crude evaluation and foster mutual learning, I would like to invite all of you to take a few minutes to email your answers to the following questions:
* What were the greatest things you experienced related to the occupation/camp for education/protests/actions?
* What were the key strengths and/or successes of UWE's camp for education?
* What were the key weaknesses and/or mistakes of UWE's camp for education?
* What idea(s) would you like to make happen next year?
Please try to be concise and answer each question in a few sentences (one sentence per strength, success, weakness, etc.). If you have more to share, consider writing a text (see the call below). All answers will be gathered in a document that will then be shared to the group of people interested to do an evaluation.

Email: and please add FEEDBACK in the subject :)

There is a wonderful idea to organise a day or a week-end dedicated to debriefing and to discussions about our next steps. If you are interested to help make that happen, please also send an email and add DEBRIEFING in the subject :)


A lot has happened over the past few weeks and it might be a good idea to use the break to reflect individually and discuss with our friends about what happened. One thing that would bring this to an entirely different level would be to share our observations, thoughts, analyses and ideas in writing. Not only that would be a fantastic memory of our achievements but it would also allow a deeper and more comprehensive evaluation.

Whether you were part of the group of 'hardcore' activists who held the space most of the time, you only came to the camp a couple of times or you attended a single protest, whether you were thrilled by everything that happened or you have a more nuanced evaluation of the occupation, your views and thoughts would help all of us to build mutual understanding, to do a much better evaluation, to learn and to make it even bigger and better next time.

Anything you would like to share would be appreciated and useful: descriptions of extraordinary (good or/and bad) experiences, observations about our strengths and weaknesses or successes and failures, comparisons with other occupations, full-blown analyses or theoretical essays ... or anything else you can think about!

If we have a sufficient number of contributions, one idea would be to collect all these texts and edit them into a small booklet or a book.

1/ If you want to be part of the working group that will edit and produce this booklet send an email!
2/ If you intend to write something, let us know before the 31st of December.
3/ The deadline for the full texts is the 9th of January.

Email: and please add WRITING in the subject!


Many of us have taken pictures, made videos, recorded workshops and teach-ins at the occupation, produced flyers and subverted UWE's marketing. Some of these files were shared on facebook but many of us have much more on our hard drives. May I suggest that we send the pictures we think are worth sharing to or at least announce there that we have stuff worth sharing? We could then gather all of this on a CD so that we all have each other's pictures without having to put all of that on evil facebook where everyone can see it. If you want to help out with this, please email!

Email: and please add FILES in the subject!


* 10 January (Monday), location TBD: national conference against education cuts and for free education (
* 15 January (Saturday) in Manchester: Network X Gathering (
* 29 January in London: National demonstration (
* 5 February in Paris: transnational coordination meeting of the 'Dissent' network preparing actions against the G8 in France this summer
* 11-13 February in Paris: European Meeting of University Movements (

If you are planning to go or if you are interested to go to one of the meetings, please email so that we can know which events are covered, communicate and support where needed!

Email: and please add EVENT in the subject!


There's still some remaining follow-up work and a few great ideas and initiatives growing for next year (some have to do with UWE, others with the broader movement). If you have a bit of time and if you're interested to get involved now with putting together some really exciting things, send an email!

Email: and please add I CAN HELP in the subject!


We have had offers to arrange a comprehensive one-day action training from several UK activists. We also have the possibility to invite to UWE a legendary civil disobedience trainer for a two days week-end workshop. Finally, we also have prepared what should be a fantastic media training for those of you interested to do media work for our group and for the movement.

If you are interested, please reply this email and tell us if you are interested in some or all of the following:
* the one-day comprehensive direct action training,
* the two days intensive civil disobedience training,
* the media training (a couple of hours).

We'll decide what to organise and the order in which these trainings will happen based on your replies, so please email!

Email: and please add TRAINING in the subject!

There's also a legal observer and support workshop on Thursday 13 January that some of you might be interested to attend:


Many of us have lost some of our belongings at the camp or at related events, and some of us have sometimes ended up with unfamiliar things! If you are still looking for something you've lost or if you have found something, please email!

Email: and please add LOST or FOUND in the subject!

MERRY CHRISTMAS (for those of you who celebrate it) and HAVE A WONDERFUL BREAK!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Call for Papers: Reimagining the University

Call for Papers December 2010
For the Journal Reimagining the University

This is not a postmortem…

And the vote on the 9th of December was not a death throe. This is an invitation for your theory, praxis and strategy to stimulate discussion of what the university could be.

For detractors and cynics, implicit in any protest against reform is a defense of the status quo. We know this is not the case.

The Roundhouse Group and the Really Open University have teamed up to produce a one-off journal edition entitled ‘Reimagining the University’ to celebrate and document three days of happenings at the University of Leeds. This will be displayed at We want this platform to go beyond a static depiction of past events; in an effort to ensure this, we now issue a second call for submissions.

These contributions can be in any form: essays, personal reflections, conversations, even maps. ‘Reimagining the University’ seeks to collate the plurality of practices and theories dispersed through active groups calling for change in Higher Education.

The recent response to the marketisation of higher education has given a voice and a collective identity to a discontent stretching beyond funding constraints. It is now time to respond as well as create, looking for new action and dialogue for the future. We want to open up debate, not close it down.

Issues to consider: What is worth salvaging from the university system? What strategies do we have for attracting those who ought to be sympathetic: passive academics, apathetic students, individuals outside of the University, young people? How to operate within the academy without being corrupted by it? What could The University be? How do we make this happen?

This journal will frame the issues for an open symposium to be held at Westminster University 2011.

Deadline for Papers February 11th 2011

Please send submissions to

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A 2008 interview with Francesco Cossiga about crushing the student movement in Italy

by Andrea Cangini for "Quotidiano nazionale" (Il Giorno/Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione), 23.10.2008 (original text in Italian pasted below)

President Cossiga, do you think that Berlusconi has gone too far in threatening the use of State force against the students?

That depends, if he believes he is the Prime Minister of a strong State then no, he was right. But as Italy is a weak State, as the opposition is no longer the rock-like PCI [1] but the evanescent PD [2], I'm afraid that his words will not be followed by action and that Berlusconi will just end up with egg on his face.

What should happen now?
At this point, Maroni [3] should do what I did when I was Home Secretary.

What's that?
Firstly, forget the high-school students... can you imagine what would happen if a 10-year-old kid got killed or seriously injured...

What about the university students, then?
Let them get on with it. Withdraw the police from the streets and the universities, infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs ready for anything, and allow the demonstrators to run loose for a week or so, devastating shops, setting cars on fire and causing havoc in the streets.

Then what?
Then, with public opinion on your side, the sound of ambulance sirens should drown out the sirens of police and carabinieri cars.

In the sense that...
In the sense that the forces of law and order should massacre the demonstrators without pity and send them all to hospital. Not arrest them - the magistrates would set them free straight away in any event... beat them bloody and beat the teachers storring them up bloody too.

The teachers, too?
The teacher above all. Not the older ones, of course... the young girls. Have you any idea of the seriousness of what's happening? There are teachers indoctrinating children and encouraging them to demonstrate - that's criminal behaviour!

But you realise what they would say in Europe after something like you suggest? "Fascism returns to Italy", they'd say.
Rubbish, it's the democratic way - put out the flame before the fire spreads.

What fire?
I'm not exaggerating when I say I truly believe that terrorism will return to bloody the streets of this country. And I wouldn't want people to forget that the Red Brigades (BR) were not born in the factories but in the universities. And that the slogans they used were used before them by the Student Movement and the trade union left.

So you think it is possible that history will repeat itself?
It's not possible, it's probable. That's why I'm saying: let's not forget that the BR were born because the flame was not put out in time.

Veltroni's PD is on the side of the demonstrators.
Look, I can't in all honesty see Veltroni taking to the streets and risk getting a cracked skull. You're more likely to see him in some exclusive club in Chicago, applauding Obama.

He won't take to the streets with a stick in his hands, sure, but politically...
Politically, he's making the same mistake that the PCI made when the troubles [4] started: it backed the movement, deluding itself that it could control it, but when it too became a target, as was bound to happen, it soon changed its mind. The so-called hard-line adopted by Andreotti, Zaccagnini and me was suggested by Berlinguer [5]... But today we've got the PD, an ectoplasm led by another ectoplasm. And that's another good reason for Berlusconi to be more prudent.

Translated by nmcn

Translator notes:
1. Italian Communist Party, which changed name and broke up in 1991.
2. Democratic Party, led by Walter Veltroni, formed in 2007 from the remains of the old PCI together with other centre-left forces.
3. Roberto Maroni (Lega Nord), current Home Minister.
4. The "contestazione", a widespread progressive protest movement which began in the late 1960s.
5. Leader of the PCI from 1972 to 1984.

INTERVISTA A COSSIGA «Bisogna fermarli, anche il terrorismo partì dagli atenei»
PRESIDENTE Cossiga, pensa che minacciando l`uso della forza pubblica contro gli studenti Berlusconi abbia esagerato? «Dipende, se ritiene d`essere il presidente del Consiglio di uno Stato forte, no, ha fatto benissimo. A bit stronger than he was right he was absolutely right
Ma poiché l`Italia è uno Stato debole, e all`opposizione non c`è il granitico Pci ma l`evanescente Pd, temo che alle parole non seguiranno i fatti e che quindi Berlusconi farà una figurac- cia».
Quali fatti dovrebbero seguire? «Maroni dovrebbe fare quel che feci io quand`ero ministro dell`Interno».
Ossia? «In primo luogo, lasciare perdere gli studenti dei licei, perché pensi a cosa succederebbe se un ragazzino rimanesse ucciso o gravemente ferito…».
Gli universitari, invece? «Lasciarli fare. Ritirare le forze di polizia dalle strade e dalle università, infiltrare il movimento con agenti provocatori pronti a tutto, e lasciare che per una decina di giorni i manifestanti devastino i negozi, diano fuoco alle macchine e mettano a ferro e fuoco le città».
Dopo di che? «Dopo di che, forti del consenso popolare, il suono delle sirene delle ambulanze dovrà sovrastare quello delle auto di polizia e carabinieri».
Nel senso che…
«Nel senso che le forze dell`ordine non dovrebbero avere pietà e mandarli tutti in ospedale. Non arrestarli, che tanto poi i magistrati li rimetterebbero subito in libertà, ma picchiarli e picchiare anche quei docenti che li fomentano». Should be merciless and send them all to hospital not bloody
Anche i docenti? «Soprattutto i docenti».
Presidente, il suo è un paradosso, no? «Non dico quelli anziani, certo, ma le maestre ragazzine sì. Si rende conto della gravità di quello che sta succedendo? Ci sono insegnanti che in- dottrinano i bambini e li portano in piazza: un atteggiamento criminale!». Yours is just a paradox, isn’t it?
E lei si rende conto di quel che direbbero in Europa dopo una cura del genere? «In Italia torna il fascismo», direbbero. Cure, prescription
«Balle, questa è la ricetta democratica:
spegnere la fiamma prima che divampi l`incendio».
Quale incendio? «Non esagero, credo davvero che il terrorismo tornerà a insanguinare le strade di questo Paese. E non vorrei che ci si dimenticasse che le Brigate rosse non sono nate nelle fabbriche ma nelle università.
E che gli slogan che usavano li avevano usati prima di loro il Movimento studentesco e la sinistra sindacale».
E` dunque possibile che la storia si ripeta? «Non è possibile, è probabile.
Per questo dico: non dimentichiamo che le Br nacquero perché il fuoco non fu spento per tempo».
Il Pd di Veltroni è dalla parte dei manifestanti.
«Mah, guardi, francamente io Veltroni che va in piazza col rischio di prendersi le botte non ce lo vedo. Lo vedo meglio in un club esclusivo di Chicago ad applaudire Obama…». Taking a beating
Non andrà in piazza con un bastone, certo, ma politicamente…
«Politicamente, sta facendo lo stesso errore che fece il Pci all`inizio della contestazione: fece da sponda al movimento illudendosi di controllarlo, ma quando, com`era logico, nel mirino finirono anche loro cambiarono radicalmente registro.
La cosiddetta linea della fermezza applicata da Andreotti, da Zaccagnini e da me, era stato Berlinguer a volerla… Ma oggi c`è il Pd, un ectoplasma guidato da un ectoplasma. Ed è anche per questo che Berlusconi farebbe bene ad essere più prudente».

Monday, 20 December 2010

Petition to cut military spending not education!

Click here and take one minute of your time to take this simple action.

Report from the Coordination meeting of a National Assembly of Education

Re-posted from the blog of the education activist network.

This report has been collectively written by Jamie Woodcock, Manchester occupier and Andrew Sanchez, LSE occupier. Please re-post

On Tuesday 14th December, around 70 students from a variety of institutions attended a meeting at the LSE to coordinate a national assembly of education. Present at the meeting were groups of students from the following institutions: UCL, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, Kings College London, SOAS, Oxford, Cambridge, Camden La Swap 6th Form College, London University of the Arts, Middlesex, Kent, Queen Mary’s, Essex, Sussex, Warwick, Brighton, London Met, Birkbeck, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, NUS LGBT Campaign, and UEL.

This process was initiated by motions passed by the following occupations calling for a general assembly of education early in the New Year; Kings College London, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, UWE and UEL. Tuesday’s meeting followed a previous planning meeting attended by 80 students and supporters with students present from further universities, including Hull, Westminster FE College and others. In total, delegates from 13 universities were present.

The meeting started with an open session led by the floor on what a national assembly for education could be like, with students giving examples of successful student assemblies in Cambridge, Manchester and Sheffield. People also discussed how the need for such a national body arises out of the democratic deficit in society.

The second half of the meeting debated and voted on proposals. This was carried out in a serious and democratic manner; the following five proposals were voted upon and subsequently passed by a large majority of those present:

1. That the assembly should focus primarily on the direct tactical questions facing the movement in the new term, and propose actions which the movement can unite behind.

2. Whilst aimed predominately at students, the assembly should be open to attendance and participation for all supporters of the movement.

3. Voting at the assembly should be open to all those present. The meeting rejected a delegate-based voting model

4. That the meeting supports the calls for a national demonstration on Saturday 29th January, as the movement needs a national demonstration in January that all can attend[1].

5. That the assembly should take place on the day after, Sunday 30th so as to maximise the ability of those from outside London able to attend.

Other suggestions for items of discussion at the assembly were alternative visions of education, dealing with legal issues, and how to conduct successful occupations. It was felt by the co-chairs of the meeting that there was consensus that, although not the primary focus of the assembly, space could be found at the assembly for these issues and others.

A motion proposed by LSE students came up with a formula that different sections of the movement (school, FE, HE etc) should have the space to meet and formulate their own suggestions. These can then be supported by the whole assembly in a plenary. In this way we maximise the solidarity of our movement whist maintaining space for independent action. Although not directly voted on, this proposal was seen as a sensible way to proceed in this matter.

It is now the aim to hold an open organising meeting very early in the New Year to plan the conference along these lines voted in this meeting.

[1] this was decided in order to work in solidarity with UCU’s proposed demonstration on that day

Call for a national conference against education cuts and for free education (week beginning Monday 10th of January)

This is an email that was sent to the camp's address on the 17th of December.

Dear friends,

We write to propose a united national conference against education cuts and for free education and to invite your occupation to be a co-organiser of this.

Whilst groups and occupations will continue to organize a whole range of local, regional and national activities - which will continue to put the Tory-led government under considerable pressure – we believe that a national, unified conference will strengthen the whole movement. We believe there is considerable enthusiasm amongst students for such an initiative.

The aim would be to have a united national conference in the next academic term organised by all those campaigns, Student Unions and sections of NUS, and occupations that have so successfully organised actions over recent weeks against higher fees and education cuts following the NUS leaderships' failure to build on the successful national demo of November 10.

To this end we believe representatives from all participating groups should meet at a convenient time and place in the week beginning Monday 10th January 2011.

We hope that you will able to participate in this initiative which we believe will facilitate greater collaboration between all those who wish to seriously fight to defend our education.

In solidarity,

Free Education Campaign

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Statement of University of Kent Occupation

We the Kent occupation and those that stand by us...

On Wednesday the 8th of December The Senate building of the University of Kent in Canterbury was occupied by students in peaceful protest. This is our stand against the blow dealt to institutes of Higher Education in the United Kingdom by unjust political agenda.

The media has so far demonized those that have taken to the cause but we stand firm in an entirely peaceful direct action, uniting staff and student alike.
Our aims, akin to our brothers and sisters in other occupations, are as follows :-
We wish to open the lines of communication between those like us whether their occupation continues, their protest has been silenced or they simply have found no venue to speak.

To convince our senior members of staff to stand alongside us in a plea for an accessible education for future generations and job safety for academic & support staff.

We wish for a policy of open-books, allowing the possibility of constructive discussion amongst all the available minds within institutions in order to assist in their budget concerns.

To remind our local authority and government across the country that their positions are by grace of the people and so should listen when they speak.

To beseech our Vice Chancellor to retract herself as a signatory in the letter addressed to the Telegraph on December 8th declaring herself in support of the abominable cuts. We ask that she also apologise to the students and staff, whose views that she neglected in her actions

To request the respect of our human and political right to protest, in an unthreatening manner, without oppressive hindrance or victimisation to our students or staff.

To allow us access to basic amenities within the occupied building to maintain health and well-being amongst the students.

To support those in further education in their battle, alongside ours, to maintain funding which allows them to pursue their education freely.

Should these cuts be allowed to come to pass then the concept of a glass ceiling will become all too much a reality for many.
Education is a basic civil right, for all, not some.

For those whose faith is waning, remember: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

You can follow the occupation at the University of Kent here.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Aberystwyth Students Occupy in Solidarity with UWE occupiers!

At 8: 30 this morning, students have taken control of the largest lecture theatre on campus, as well as the smaller lecture theatre opposite (A12 and A14 respectfully). The occupation is intended to last 9 hours, one hour for ever thousand we will have to pay if legislation passes.

We wish to show solidarity with the UWE, and their actions.

Wishing the best,

Aber Students Against Cuts.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

First quick response to Steve West's so-called "Open Letter" to all UWE students

Dear Steve West,

On the 7th of December 2010 at 4.35pm, less than two days before the vote on tuition fees, you emailed a letter to all UWE students. Many students and staff at UWE have already shared their disappointment and disagreements about this letter at the camp for education, in the corridors and through emails.

Many students and staff are currently extremely busy influencing MPs to abstain or vote against tripled tuition fees, preparing for and promoting a number of actions today and tomorrow.

We regret that you sent your letter two days before the vote, that you distracted us from crucial last minutes efforts before the vote. Moreover, it seems to us that there is little point in having a ‘big debate’ on the 14th of December, after the vote on tuition fees!

Once the vote is over, the camp for education will facilitate a process for students and staff to answer your letter point by point.

For the time being, we only have time to make the following three points.

1. At no point in your communication, you have questioned the democratic legitimacy of the government's proposal to increase tuition fees. Indeed, LibDems were elected on the basis of a pledge not to increase tuition fees. Moreover, your position portrays cuts to Higher Education as necessary without giving consideration to alternatives.Government found £850bn to bail out banks from the financial crisis1. Government now claim that they can’t find £4bn2 for Universities. Trident renewal costs £34bn alone. Other Europe countries with greater debt to GDP ratio continue to provide free Higher Education.

2. You say: “I am disappointed and saddened that, despite significant negotiations and lobbying over many months, it has not been possible to convince the government to continue to support higher education in the same way.” Yet you provide no evidence to substantiate this claim. The first demand of UWE’s camp for education was to “inform students about the concrete actions that [you and the governors] are taking in engaging with and challenging the government policies”. You did not share any specific information about such actions.

3. You say: “I fully support the University Alliance's position and the Universities UK Board statement that agree with the Government’s proposals for an increase in the graduate contribution as the best available option, given the circumstances.” As such, before the vote has taken place, you announce that you actively support a reform to triple tuition fees.

On the one hand, you admit that you failed to convince government, while being incapable of saying anything about what concrete actions you took to influence or persuade them. On the other hand, your letter announces that you are actively supporting the reform for tripled tuition fees before the vote.

We believe that your intervention was inappropriate and therefore detrimental to the interests of students, staff, our university and higher education.

UWE Camp for Education

1 £850bn: official cost of the bank bailout

2 Spending Review: Universities braced for deep cuts

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Open letter from Steve West (UWE's Vice Chancellor) to UWE Students

Before or after reading this so-called "open letter" (actually, it was an email that was directly sent to all UWE students), please make sure to read our first quick response.
As Vice-Chancellor of UWE I would like to share the following statement with you. It clarifies my views on the announced higher education funding cuts, the proposed increase in the graduate contribution, the student protests and the restructuring at UWE.

1. Fundamentally I believe that higher education should be fully supported by adequate funding through taxation and provided for by the public purse. I believe that all subject disciplines should be equally supported and valued. I am disappointed and saddened that, despite significant negotiations and lobbying over many months, it has not been possible to convince the government to continue to support higher education in the same way.

2. However, I do understand the extremely difficult financial climate we as a country find ourselves in. This has required the government to prioritise and cut aspects of public spending. I accept that higher education cannot be immune from measures to reduce the deficit. I support the Government’s prioritisation and ‘relative protection’ of health, social care, state schools, police and other critical public services that impact directly on all parts of society. Morally I cannot argue for higher education to be prioritised above these areas, particularly given that unlike other public services universities can generate income from other sources.

3. The alternative to the increase in the graduate contribution, currently being considered by the Government, is a heavy reduction in the number of people going to university. If this option is pursued it would mean the return to an elite system, it would damage widening participation, and reduce the capacity of higher education to transform lives. I have therefore reluctantly accepted that, in the absence of any real alternative, the increase in the graduate contribution is the only viable option.

4. In doing so I fully support the University Alliance's position and the Universities UK Board statement that agree with the Government’s proposals for an increase in the graduate contribution as the best available option, given the circumstances.¹

5. Like all universities, UWE is facing, and will continue to face significant funding cuts. The CSR removes over 80% (over £50 million) of our core public funding by 2014/15. Compensating for some of these cuts through an increase in the graduate contribution is the only viable option available to us at this time. If the increase is not supported, we will be unable to sustain the University in its current form and would not be able to invest in enhancement to our learning and working environment. We would look very different in our size, shape and the subject areas we offer.

6. In order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have been working very hard to control and reduce our operating and management costs. Through a series of reviews we are working to build more efficient systems and processes so as to release more resource to support the student experience and the quality of our academic programmes.

7. I would like to be very clear that we are not reducing contact time or our academic staff engaged in teaching and learning. The restructuring has focused on reducing management and administrative costs to allow increased investment to support the student experience. In particular, investment to increase contact time and access to tutors across all courses. There is NO plan to undertake a cross-University restructuring of teaching resources at senior lecturer (grade H) or lecturer (grade G) level.

8. In the New Year, Faculty Executives will start to look at their staffing and physical resource requirements based on the actual and expected student numbers for programmes currently being offered or developed for the 2011-2012 year. They will then develop the academic staffing requirements for the 2011-2012 year, using all available management information, including the current version of the academic work load model. It is likely that this may highlight the need to rebalance staffing levels to ensure we support student learning and pastoral needs.

9. As Vice-Chancellor I am accountable to the Board of Governors and through them to the University. I am also accountable to the Higher Education Funding Council and ultimately the Public Accounts Committee. I have to act to protect the interests of the University. It is my responsibility with the Board to manage the immediate and the long-term financial and academic sustainability of UWE; in particular the experience and opportunities we provide for our students, partners and society. UWE is a very strong University which transforms lives and adds significant value to both individuals and society. We should be proud of what we do and we should celebrate the positive difference we make and will continue to make in the future. Our reputation and standing enhances the prospects of our staff and students through the value of our degrees and our research. We must do all we can to continue to build and protect this.

10. As we move forward, I continue to support the leadership of the National Union of Students, the UWE Students’ Union and students who engage in peaceful demonstration and debate. I, along with colleagues and the Board of Governors, have engaged in the debate and fully understand and respect the legitimate concerns raised by current and future students. I will continue to work with the Students’ Union to support the needs of students. In doing so I hope that the position of the leadership and management of the University is also understood and respected during this period of unprecedented change and challenge. We remain committed to enhancing the student experience by continuing to improve the quality of our programmes, infrastructure, estate and front line staff resource.

11. Finally, I do not support any acts of bullying, intimidation, obstruction, frustration or acts that prevent the University, staff or students from conducting their normal legitimate business. I was disappointed that last week a handful of protesters engaged in bullying and intimidation of female members of staff. They then frustrated and disrupted normal university business at an event that was benefiting our past and present students, staff and employers from across the region. Such behaviour, I am sure you will agree, is unacceptable, inappropriate and is not consistent with the values, ethos, policies and codes of conduct at UWE, and as such has no place here.

12. I do however fully support debate, discussion and reasoned argument and believe that this is essential to any civilised culture and academic institution.

I hope that by working together we can develop as a world-class University, offering excellent learning and teaching, research and engagement. We are an inclusive University that reaches out to communities and we make a significant difference to individuals and society. We should be proud, confident and ambitious for the future and we should work to allow everyone to reach their full potential. We can only do that if we are prepared to adapt, prioritise, invest and change.

As Vice-Chancellor I am certainly very proud of UWE. I hope that you are equally proud of your University, the degree you will earn and the reputation you will help shape and support.

Professor Steve West

¹ UUK Board Statement - ‘We the undersigned members of Universities UK (UUK) support the UUK Board’s position in relation to the forthcoming tuition fees vote. The Board strongly opposes the significant reduction in funding for higher education, but agrees that the Coalition Government’s proposals represent the best option in the current circumstances for a sustainable higher education system, with no upfront tuition fee payments by students, and a significantly improved package of support for part time students and for students from poorer backgrounds’.

Before or after reading this so-called "open letter" (actually, it was an email that was directly sent to all UWE students), please make sure to read our first quick response.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Thali donates to UWE occupation

Thali feeds the UWE occupants

Local solidarity expressed by donation of food.

Award winning Indian restaurant, Thali of St Marks Road, Easton, has donated two nights worth of food to the UWE occupation. The food will feed at least twenty protesting students for two nights as they continue occpupying in opposition to the governments proposed education cuts.

The food included rice, chicken, potato and vegan dishes.

This show of local solidarity further demonstrates that students are not alone in their fight back. Education cuts are just one section of the governments overall plans to destroy the welfare state. Bristol as a community can come together and be stronger through mutual support and friendship. Together we can defeat these cuts, which are naked attack on the most poor and vulnerable people of society.

The UWE students wish to thank the Thali staff for their generosity, and invite them round for a cup of tea and some cake.


You can book your seat for the London protest, day X, decision day, on the 9th December, here:

The Buses leave UWE Frenchay campus at 8:00am. The cost will be £5, to be paid on the coach. The coach is for all staff and students who wish to attend.

Special thanks to the University and Colleges Union (UCU) for subsidising these coaches. This is a clear display of solidarity between staff and students, who have been working together to oppose education cuts both locally and nationally.

UWE education camp gets kettled in Bristol

On Sunday 5th December a group from the education camp attended the 4th day of action in Bristol. There had been a facebook group advertising this day, which was closed down two days before it was supposed to happen (3rd). Word circulated that the action had been cancelled. In hindsight we think it is possible that this group was set up by the police in order to keep the numbers attending the demonstration low.

Around 200-300 people attended the demo, a significantly lower amount than the 2000-3000 at the three previous actions. Those who attended were subjected to the most forceful and underhanded police tactics yet. The peaceful protest was kettled within an hour of starting. We were held at the top of Park Street by police in riot gear, on horse back, and surrounded by riot vans. In an attempt to link arms and move peacefully past the police lines, protesters were literally beaten back.

After an hour of negotiation the protest was encased by police and moved slowly down Park Street like a controlled herd, until reaching College Green, where we were held for another two hours. Within the crowd were schoolchildren and a woman with a baby in a pram. This protest was clearly the most dangerous yet, and warranted such oppressive tactics.

All in all we learnt a lot about police brutality. If anything these kind of tactics only increase our indignation, and strengthen out focus on instigating change and opposing these ideologically oriented cuts to education. We are now concentrating on the demo in London on the 9th. Day X. Decision day.

We are applying pressure on Lib Dem MP's, and urge you to do the same. Please contact any and all MP's and urge them to vote NO on the increase in tuition fees and the removal of the the cap. See you in London. YA BASTA!!!!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Demonstration Against Cuts - Sunday Dec 5th

05 December · 11:30 - 14:30
College Green

They say cut back, we say FIGHT BACK!

We could afford a £1.3 trillion bailout of banks, from which the UK holds £850 billion in assets. We can afford an expensive war but we are going to take EMA from college children!

These cuts are not inevitable, they are ideological!

These cuts are an attack on our public services, communities and our children's futures. This is the real VIOLENCE!

Resistance is not futile, it's essential!

Assemble on College Green at 11.30 THIS SUNDAY for a third day of action and lets make some noise!

No to education cuts and fees!
No to ALL public service, jobs and benefit cuts!
No to the abolition of EMA!
No to tax dodging businesses and banks!

Hope to see you there, invite as many people as you can to raise awareness.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Friday Dec. 3rd Bristol Student Protest: Stephen Williams, keep your pledge!

03 December · 13:30 - 15:00
Woodland Road 1-1.30pm ||| College Green 2pm

Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West promised to vote against any increase in tuition fees before the election. He now seems to have changed his mind, and is supporting fees of £9,000 per year.

Come along to Stephen's constituency office and make your displeasure known. We'll have banners and plenty of media ready to cover the event.

Friday 3rd
1/1.30pm Woodland Road Signature gathering
2pm Walk to College Green

UWE Occupation Hotline: 07583086261