In a show of solidarity with striking university staff, students of the University of Edinburgh have occupied the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre in the central campus area, George Square.
First year history students arrived at the building for their 9am lecture to find the doors barricaded from the inside with bins and furniture.
The building has also been adorned with flags reading “Welcome to our Occupation”, “Students in Solidarity” and “No commodification of our Education”.
From pictures posted on their twitter account, it appears that approximately 25 students remain inside the building, although they declined to comment when asked. Plans to occupy the building overnight are currently unconfirmed.
Leaflets are being handed out from within the building, declaring “Edinburgh University is Occupied. Edinburgh University is Ours”, and calling on the Principal Peter Mathieson to meet the demands of UCU in Edinburgh.
The leaflets also outline specific changes to the action proposed by the University, crossing out the statements “Implement Salary deductions for strike action over at least a four month period” and “Donate any salary deductions to the student hardship fund”, replacing it with the words “No Salary Deductions” in block capital red print.
An informal gathering of students and striking staff is now taking place outside the lecture theatre, marking a resurgence of rally activity after days of calmer picket lines.
Some students expressed their anger at the occupation, remarking, “a small group of students occupied the lecture theatre and didn’t allow for our lecture to be taught. Frankly these students aren’t acting in my name”. Another added, “I respect the right for students and staff to strike, but other students shouldn’t be allowed to intervene in my learning”.
This occupation comes on the tenth day of strike action at the university, as staff protest against proposed changes to the pension scheme by Universities UK. Yesterday, however, it was suggested that strikes could end, as a revised proposal by employers and union leaders was sent to members of the University and College Union (UCU) for consideration. A meeting of its higher education committee and at a separate meeting of branch representatives is taking place today.
Image credit: Andrew Perry