Students across the country are staging occupations and protests after police were accused of using "extreme, disproportionate" violence to break up a sit-in at the University of Warwick on Wednesday.
Students from a number of universities including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield make up the list of groups occupying buildings on their campuses in a show of solidarity. Students from SOAS went one step further to occupy Holborn police station for at least an hour in the evening.
The group camped overnight and published a list of demands, including a request for apology from both the university management and West Midlands Police. Around 30 continue to occupy the university space. They emailed the list to the Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift with a deadline of 6 January for him to reply.
— SOAS Students' Union (@soassu) December 4, 2014
Meanwhile in Warwick activists invaded a room in the top floor of the Rootes Building where a vice chancellor’s dinner was due to be held. This followed a ‘cops off campus’ demonstration during the afternoon in which more than a hundred attended.
— Against Fees & Cuts (@NCAFC_UK) December 4, 2014
— Against Fees & Cuts (@NCAFC_UK) December 5, 2014
The wave of occupations came in response to claims the police used extreme measures to evict a sit-in organised as part of Wednesday's 'National Day of Action' against tuition fees. The university said at the time that they had called the police after hearing one of the students had allegedly assaulted a member of security.
Callum Cant of Warwick For Free Education said the students may abandon the occupation as they break for the holidays but would re-occupy university space upon returning if their demands are not addressed.
He said the security team has restricted access to supplies as well as the entrance and exit of students, with the only unguarded route of access being a top floor window. He hinted there would be room for opening a dialogue "if the university will stop holding us siege and grant access to food and water and the passage of people".
Callum also said he could estimate between 40-80 police officers positioned on university grounds, adding they have not yet engaged with members of the occupation.
But the university has shot down these assertion, rejecting both the estimated police presence and the claim that access to food and water is being denied.
A spokesperson for the University of Warwick said: “We believe that there are around half a dozen people currently occupying part of the Rootes building – we do not know if they are all actually Warwick students or not.”
“The University has elected students serving on a range of university governing bodies and it is those elected students who represent our whole student body that the university works and engages with.”
The National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts (NCAFC) has organised a further wave of local demonstrations to take place on Saturday 6 December.