Updated: Edinburgh University Occupation

Published

Students at Edinburgh University have entered into an occupation in response to the recent decision by the University Court to impose fees of £36,000 on Students from outside Scotland.

The occupation began at 12:45 this afternoon when between 30-40 students, who came from across Scotland, entered the George Square lecture theatre.

The Occupiers have released their demands which include freedom of access to the building, the withdrawal of £36,000 rate of fees imposed by the University and that “An explicit rejection of any future proposals that seek to change the status of Scottish Universities from public educational institutions to privately funded enterprises.”

The Occupation’s full list of demands

We demand immediately from Edinburgh University:

  • Freedom of access
  • No legal or academic repercussions for anyone involved

We demand of the Scottish government and Scottish Universities:

  • Withdrawal of the proposed 36k fees at Edinburgh University
  • Withdrawal of all fee rises at other Scottish Universities, and no future proposals without meaningful student consultation.
  • That they uphold the basic principle, inherent in the Scottish education system, of free education for all.
  • Scotland should actively oppose Westminster policies challenging that principle.
  • An explicit rejection of any future proposals that seek to change the status of Scottish Universities from public educational institutions to privately funded enterprises.
  • No privatisation of education and no privately funded courses.
  • No cuts to courses or compulsory redundancies in Scottish universities.
  • Full and open consultation between management, staff and students concerning fees.
  • A living wage for all workers at Scottish universities including those subcontracted.
  • University senior management must take the average salary of university staff, or resign.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association President, Matt McPherson, made the Association’s position clear on the occupation:

With Edinburgh University making their degrees the most expensive in the UK it comes as no surprise that students are making their feelings clear by claiming back their university.

£36,000 degrees will deter talented students from the rest of the UK coming to study at Edinburgh. The University started this race to the top in Scotland and now it’s facing the consequences of its actions.

While this non-violent protest was organised outwith the students’ association, the students’ association’s role in the days to come will be critical. We’ll be speaking on a regular basis directly with the occupying students and with officials of the University of Edinburgh.

Sources close to EUSA have told Glasgow Guardian that they are in full support of the Occupiers and that they believe the current management response has been insufficient for the welfare of the students in the occupation.

Edinburgh University issued a short statement:

The University attaches great importance to freedom of speech as long as points of view are put across in a safe and lawful way.

The University have yet to turn on the heating and are only allowing food to enter the building by being winched through a window.

Students from the Universities of Aberdeen, St Andrews and Glasgow are also present, with the banner from Glasgow’s long running “Free Hetherington” Occupation flying from an open window.

Glasgow University has yet to make a decision on fees for student’s from elsewhere in the UK.

[19:35] – The Occupation will end tonight after 36 hours in Occupation. Each hour was intended to symbolize £1000 of Edinburgh’s announced £36000 Rest of UK fees. The Occupiers have told Glasgow Guardian that more occupations are being planned for the near future.

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by Oliver Milne