Senate House occupiers had a 'constructive meeting' with Hugh Brady


The group of students who are occupying the fifth floor of Senate House claim that 'some progress has been made', following a meeting with the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and Director of External Comunications

A spokesperson for the group told Epigram: 'We have organised for a statement to be released in support of the strikes and the students’ right to protest peacefully.

'Further to this, we have negotiated with the management of the University to ensure that their legal right to withhold pay from striking staff is clarified and that working to contract will not result in reduced pay for staff who meet these conditions. This will be done to avoid the university taking what would be regrettable punitive action.'

Epigram understands that the Vice-Chancellor will issue a statement committing to being 'as transparent as possible over the redstribution of witheld pay'.

The group emphasised that they have been peaceful, and paid tribute in return to the University for accommodating their right to protest.

The spokesperson said: 'The University have been respectful of our occupied space and access to necessary facilities, putting other universities such as Bath, Liverpool and Exeter to shame in dealing with such issues. We have been in contact with other occupations around the country and are pleased to hear that these rights have now been returned to Bath students.'

Professor Hugh Brady said: 'We have welcomed the students to stay in Senate House where they are safe and comfortable, with access to meeting rooms, kitchen and bathroom facilities and balcony.

'These students will not face any disciplinary action as a result of a respectful, peaceful occupation.'

Professor Brady and the Student-Staff Solidarity group both confirmed that they will meet again tomorrow because they ran out of time to discuss every concern.

Starting at 10AM and lasting until 11.15AM, the meeting occurred after members of the Student-Staff Solidarity group occupied the fifth floor of Senate House, where the Vice-Chancellor's Office is, with the intent of speaking with Hugh Brady and passing on a set of demands.

The occupation is expected to continue as the group continue to push their demands. Their meeting tomorrow will be with the addition of the Chief Financial Officer.

An open leter to the Vice-Chancellor has been issued from the occupiers outlining these demands.

The occupation, which was not an official event of the Student-Staff Solidarty group but initiated by individual members, began at around 7.20AM yesterday (Monday). The group slept in Senate House over night.

Bristol UCU have openly supported the group in their occuptation. Tracey Hooper, President of Bristol UCU, said: 'We respect and applaud the students’ commitment to the staff cause. We respect their right to peacefully protest and allow freedom of expression.'

The Student-Staff Solidarity group is comprised of a group of students supporting lecturers in the ongoing UCU strike. Their early methods, such as disrupting lectures, courted controversy, leading to claims of increasing 'militancy'. Speaking exclusively to Epigram last week, the group denied these claims and argued that they had been 'disruptive, but not militant'.

The group was founded in support of lecturers participating in the UCU strikes, which have materialised from a national dispute over pensions for academic staff.

Moving from a Defined Benefit system, the new propsals by Universities UK (UUK), the body that oversees UK universities, mean that staff pensions are more dependent on the market. With the new scheme, lecturers could have a greater pension or a lower pension than they would with the Defined Benefit scheme.

The Universities and College Union (UCU) argue that the new scheme, with the possibility of staff losing up to £10,000 of their pension a year, provides too much insecurity.

Both UCU and UUK have returned to negotiations, but the dispute is yet to have been resolved. There is a possiblity that the strikes could extend into exam season if no agreement is made.

Featured Image: Facebook / Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity

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Ed Southgate

former co-Editor in Chief 2018-2019 | former Editor of Epigram Comment 2017-2018 | UoB English student 2016-19 | Twitter: @ed_southgate