FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
At 6am Wednesday morning, around 20 students from the University of St Andrews occupied St Salvator’s Quad to protest against the raising of rest of UK (RUK) fees to £9,000 a year, under the name of ’36 Hours Against 36 Thousand’.
The group 36 Hours Against 36 Thousand is a leaderless group of students using use non-violent direct action to oppose unjust university policy, and to promote access to university that is based on academic merit rather than ability to pay. The protest is the third in a series of rolling occupations aiming to reverse management decisions that have been made in an undemocratic and underhand fashion. This occupation follows previous ones in the Samurai Gardens in October, and St Mary’s Quad earlier this month.
The 500% fee increase in RUK fees makes St Andrews the most expensive university in Europe to achieve an undergraduate degree. As well as opposing the fee increase, the occupiers demand that consultation is improved in decision-making bodies, so that the students who make up the vast majority of the population of the university have their voice adequately heard.
One third year International Relations student said: “Given that I have had the opportunity to study at this University, I would hate to see people lose out on the unique St Andrews experience purely because they can’t afford these extortionate fees. We are here to show that the decision to raise fees by 500% was made by management, and that there is little widespread support for the increase on the campus.”
A fourth year Social Anthropology student revealed “one of the most important factors in my decision to come to study at this university was the financial one, and so it saddens me greatly that students from beyond the Scottish borders will be forced to pay so much more to subsidise the rest of us. I am still not convinced that quadrupling fees for one third of the student-body as suddenly and aggressively as our principal has decided to do should even be considered as an option. Especially in a society that places the human individual at its core.”
The occupier’s relationship with the prospective students arriving for the open day was summed up by a third year Geographer: “by occupying we are showing potential students that the elitist reputation of St Andrews students is unfounded. We encourage those looking at the university to ask the awkward questions about funding that the university is trying to avoid answering. Our actions are based on our concern for the university that prospective students will inherit”