FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday afternoon saw anti-cuts activists in St. Andrews occupied University property to demonstrate against the recent increase in fees for rest of UK (RUK) students. Around 30 students set up camp in St. Marys Quad in St. Andrews at 12 midday under the banner of ’36 Hours Against 36 Thousand’, with a view to occupying for 36 hours.
36 Hours Against 36 Thousand, a leaderless group pledged to use non-violent direct action to resist unfair and undemocratic university management decisions, are following on from the recent occupation of the Principal’s garden. Activists have released demands which include: reversing the decision to charge students £9,000 a year, reform of University decision making bodies and calls for pay cuts to senior University management. The fee increase makes St Andrews the most expensive university in Europe. The occupation will end at midnight Thursday. The occupation is the second in a sustained campaign to change university policy.
First year student Alice Manning said “As an English student, I would have had serious doubts about coming to St Andrews if I was asked to graduate with £36,000 debt in tuition fees. This decision can only undermine St Andrew’s reputation as a leading University.”
Fourth year student Alexander Bennett showed the anger at the government in Westminster, saying, “The fee increase was only allowed with thanks to a Conservative
government that Scotland did not elect.”
Third year student James Hopkins told people, “The decision to charge RUK students £36,000 was made by people unelected by students. The few elected student representatives at the University voted against the decision but it has still gone ahead. The undemocratic nature of the decision means we feel compelled to occupy to make our voice heard.”
Patrick O’Hare, Students Association President, said, “The Students Association has voted to support occupation as an effective means of expressing discontent with the university’s decision, and we will continue to protest the imposition of extortionate tuition fees at St Andrews. The fee increase will have a negative effect on the university’s widening access policy, and on its ability to attract students from non-traditional backgrounds.”
The UCU in St Andrews said that they support the Students Association’s opposition to the fee increase and that they support the students in their protest.