A group of student demonstrators have occupied a room in one of the main buildings on the University of Birmingham’s campus, and are calling for “free and democratic education in Birmingham and the UK”.
The group, called Defend Education Birmingham, began their protest last night in the Senate Chambers in the Aston Webb building. They barricaded themselves in the Dome Room, equipped with a table of food to keep them going through the night.
In a statement, the protesters hit out at university management, for allegedly decreasing students’ power and representation.
“Defend Education believes that staff and students should have more power in every level of university decision making. Currently a small class of senior managers benefit disproportionately from the fees and work of staff and students. They have total unaccountable power to harm our interests within the university and lobby against our interests outside it.”
The group has published a list of their demands online. They want the university to campaign against increased fees, to guarantee all staff, including casuals, the Living Wage, and to decrease the pay disparity between the highest and lowest paid employees. The full statement is available here.
The occupation is ongoing, and a spokesman for the group told The Independent that they have “no plans to leave”.
“We’re trying to assert control over a situation where students feel they have no power. The response has been amazing. Security are not letting anyone else in but we know more people want to join.”
In a statement, the university said it respects “the rights of students to protest peacefully and within the law”.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community and we are concerned where any protest poses a potential hazard to protesters or bystanders, or causes unwarranted disruptions to study or work, or damage to property.”