Just a quick message. Senior university management and Scottish education politicians (i.e. the people behind the rise in RUK fees) will be in St Andrews today. We’re holding a rally in St Mary’s Quad at midday today (Wednesday) to show our opposition to them. Please come along if you can make it. Actually, even if you can’t come along you totally should.
We’ve been making this claim quite a bit recently, and given that we’ve been frequently asked to explain it (justifiably of course) we’ve decided to give a quick run through of our logic.
There are multiple factors to bear in mind:
- £9,000 a year is the highest rate for public Universities in Europe, and the third highest in the developed world, so Britain has the highest fees in Europe.
- Within Britain, Ancient Scottish universities are the most expensive due to having a four year course rather than three years, as is the case in England. For tuition fees alone St Andrews and Edinburgh share this dubious honour.
- St Andrews has the highest average living costs of all Scottish Universities.
When we made our claim we factored in both the tuition fees and the costs of living in St Andrews. After all, when you graduate with tens of thousands of pounds in unavoidable debt, we doubt you care too much where it came from.
Sadly St Andrews has always had a reputation for, well, being a bit posh. But the actions of people at this University have shown time and time again that people don’t conform to that stereotype. There are so many people who care about this University’s future, and as long as this is the case, we will continue to resist this outrageous decision.
So the occupation ended last night with a small celebration and a promise to return. Tuesday night saw a performance from the superb Jeffrey Lewis (if that doesn’t make you insanely jealous you have no taste in music) and then we rounded off with a vegan feast and an interview with some poor sod from The White Lady (St Andrew’s new and ever so slightly posh newspaper) who ended up on the receiving end of some one-sided banter (“So what do you do at the paper? Are you just the guy that wears the corduroy?”).
But this is only the beginning. We will occupy again and we will continue to do so until the university listens. So far our demands have been met with silence. After the 9th, 10th, 11th occupation, they may begin to realise that we haven’t accepted their decisions and we will not accept our university’s descent into elitism.
Love and rage,
After a slow beginning, this occupation is well and truely up and running. The messages of support we have received have been heartwarming, and the students we have spoken to really seem positive about this movement. We had a sudden media storm about an hour ago, when the BBC, STV, and various local papers all came at once. This was obviously brilliant but our undying respect must go to David, a photographer with The Courier who had two hours kip before running out to meet us at 7 in the morning.
So the mood is optimistic, and while I’m sure many people will sneak out to the Jeffrey Lewis gig later, people seem set for staying the night. Thanks again for your support
Bit of an interesting time just now. After being unaware of our protest for a couple of hours, security finally cottoned on to our occupation. At about 9:00 (3 hours after the original occupation) they decided to shut the main gates to the garden, and deny access to students. At this point various people were shut out and we began to plan the inevitable game of cat and mouse where we would try and sneak into the occupation without getting caught. However, half an hour later security decided to set up metal fences around all enterances to the garden. Because, y’know, that’s how you should treat your students. After a few minor disputes, securityrelented and decided to allow freedom of access to the original occupiers. Of course, this presented them with the problem of identifying the original protesters: not easy when it went on for three hours without you noticing. Eventually it was decided that freedom of access would be allowed to anyone with a matriculation card at the university, and the gates were opened again. So now the sun is out, we have freedom of access and the music speakers are pumping out some tunes. The occupation is looking good.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A group of around 20 students from the University of St Andrews occupied the gardens outside the Principal’s residence at 6am on Tuesday in protest to the introduction of £9,000 a year rest of UK (RUK) fees. The occupation will last for 36 hours, to symbolise the £36,000 debt the university has asked its RUK students to graduate with. Students are demanding an immediate withdrawal of the proposed fees as well as greater transparency and democracy in university decision making. The decision to charge RUK students £36,000, when added to the largest living costs in Scotland, now makes St Andrews the most expensive university to achieve an undergraduate degree in Europe.
One student reflected the wide anger at the decision, saying “It’s a gross hypocrisy that people who benefitted from a free education themselves are increasing fees for other students by 500%. The governments at Westminster and Holyrood should take their share of the blame but the university’s argument that this is financially necessary is dishonest. The cut per RUK student is only £3,323 so raising fees by over £7,000 doesn’t make sense.”
Another student, a second year English student, said “Since the decision to raise tuition fees was made out of term time while students were away, it is of vital importance to let those in charge of the University of St Andrews know that there is a large student opposition to these unnecessary measures. It is also very important to show other students who may feel strongly against these new fees that vocal protest and occupation is a perfectly valid and effective way of making this disagreement felt.”
A fourth year International Relations student told people “I believe that this increase in fees across Scotland is detrimental to higher education. I’m protesting today on University property to promote this view and to promote a future of freely available education for whoever wants it.”
A third year geography student revealed “We want to show the university that just because they have already made the decision to charge £36,000 for a degree it doesn’t mean that the students accept it. Being the most expensive university in Europe is not the legacy we want our university to carry.”
The decision to raise RUK fees at St Andrews followed Edinburgh University also setting its fees at the maximum threshold. A group of around 100 students from across Scotland recently occupied Edinburgh University in protest of this decision.
So… we’re in. After the inevitable panic about being found out and stopped, getting into the gardens outside the Principle’s residence was surprisingly easy. We had a moment of alarm when we saw the large iron gates were locked, and this only got worse when we saw at least four security guards hanging around the area. However lady-luck is obviously anti-cuts because it turned out that the guards were only there to open the gates for the morning. We promptly marched inside and set up camp. As of half an hour into the occupation security still didn’t know we had done anything.
About 20 students braved the Fife morning, and after waiting for (i.e. constantly ringing until they woke up) the more dozy members to get out of bed we decided we had enough members to initially occupy, in the understanding that waking up at 5 in the morning isn’t the most attractive way to occupy. Anger mixed with slumber: what a mix!
We have published our list of demands, which focus around the 500% increase in RUK fees, but also democracy in the university. We hope that people will support us in any way they can. From joining in to sending messages of solidarity over Twitter, everything you do will help. And once the cold kicks in we’re probably going to need it…
Website (including photos): https://standrewsoccupied.wordpress.com/