Students have ended their occupation of a Brighton University building this evening (Monday 5 December).
But they threatened a further occupation – either of the same site or of a more significant location.
They took over part of the Grand Parade building last week but said that they did not want to disrupt a forthcoming exhibition of students’ work.
Under the banner of Brighton Students Against Cuts, they said: “Occupying the gallery of Grand Parade was about visibility and mobilisation, and in this regard the occupation was a great success.
“It was made clear that students at the university are willing to actively oppose the government’s higher education white paper and that this resistance to the white paper is part of a broader resistance to our government’s austerity measures.”
The students said that they regard the white paper as opening the way to the privatisation of higher education, a policy that they oppose.
They also said: “It was difficult to believe that the management of our university had the interests of staff and students at heart.
“It became clear that their response to the occupation was not to enter into dialogue but to divide and rule.
“Management evacuated Grand Parade of its late night classes when we entered the gallery, citing security, but didn’t feel the need to evacuate an event in the Sallis Benney Theatre happening at the same time.
“The first news that the occupation received regarding this week’s student exhibition was when we were told today by a member of staff that the exhibiting students had decided to cancel the show.
“When we spoke to the students themselves we were told that they had made no such decision, rather that they were informed by staff that the show would have to be cancelled.
“It was collectively decided that an occupation would only stand in the way of a significant part of their degree.
“An unexpected consequence of our occupation of the gallery was the politicisation of its space.
“The question of whose space it is, how this space functions and whose space it should be was forced to be confronted by us as much as others in Grand Parade.
“To that end it was a pleasure to finish our occupation with an open meeting addressing these issues, which was well attended by occupiers and other students.”
The students added that the university’s senior management team had a chance to reject the higher education white paper which they described as “a document roundly condemned across the higher education sector”.
They said: “If you do not – if by your silence you tacitly accept the government’s proposals – we will enter into occupation again.
“In this instance we are likely to take to the advice of a senior faculty manager from the first night of the occupation.
“If we wish to make a political point, there are far more symbolically significant targets to be found in Mithras House.”