Student protesters declare victory as Glasgow University sit-in set to end

Students at the University of Glasgow occupation are celebrating this week after Principal Anton Muscatelli conceded defeat in his attempt to impose swingeing cuts on the University.

The u-turn comes after six months of pressure exerted by students occupying the Free Hetherington led to concessions ensuring a new postgraduate club, no further cuts to courses and no compulsory redundancies at the University. 

As part of the deal secured by the Free Hetherington occupation, students will be able to quiz Principal Muscatelli directly in a mass open meeting in October over the lack of perceived transparency of management decisions at the University.

In exchange the students will end their six-month sit-in at 13 University Gardens to allow management to convert the former postgraduate club into lecturing space.

Students say they are enthusiastic about the outcome: 

“Six months after management refused to engage with us, we’ve finally won these demands. Direct action and direct democracy work – we’ve proved that and management have accepted it, which in itself is a huge achievement.” - James Humphries, 24, postgraduate philosophy student.

They were keen to emphasise that the end of the occupation does not spell the end for activism on campus:

“While we’ve achieved a lot on campus this year the fight absolutely does not end here. We will continue our campaign against tuition fees and ensure management keep their end of the bargain. We will be back” - Laura Jones, 24, history of art student.

On 1st February 2011, a group of students entered the disused former Hetherington Research Club on campus and pledged to remain in the building until their demands, which included no course cuts and the reopening the postgraduate club, were met. In the past six months, a large body of students and staff have continually kept up pressure. 

For almost two-hundred days the students have been sleeping, studying and campaigning in the former postgraduate club. Their efforts have received international acclaim and attracted visits from celebrities including director Ken Loach, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg and Scottish Makar Liz Lochhead. A packed schedule of events, lectures and workshops has made the Free Hetherington a focal point on campus for thousands of students and members of the local community.

As the longest-running student occupation in UK history, the Free Hetherington has become a lasting symbol of the wave of anti-tuition fees protests and occupations that swept the country in December 2010.

Students will bring the occupation to a conclusion on Wednesday 31st August.

Interested media should contact glasgowoccupation@gmail.com.

A bullet point version of the agreement is available. A finalized version is being confirmed with management. In short:

The Agreement

1. No more course cuts.

2. No compulsory redundancies.

3. A new postgraduate club, to be opened in the next year.

4. No cuts for student services, a guarantee of transparency with the SRC (Student Representative Council).

5. A public meeting with the principal Anton Muscatelli, where students and staff may address their worries.

6. No repercussions from the University for staff or students involved in the occupation.

7. An assurance that no information will be volunteered to the police about people involved.

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27 Responses to Student protesters declare victory as Glasgow University sit-in set to end

  1. Nicky O'Donnell says:

    Solidarity from Tralee Ireland. Well done everyone.

  2. fiddlestix says:

    no more course cuts? Is that no more in addition to those initially announced or was there a reduction in the initial cuts too?

  3. void says:

    “… and that was the greatest achievement I have ever obtained with my degree in History of Art.” “I just want my god damned coffee!”

  4. Pingback: Edinburgh Anarchist Federation » Free Hetherington Victory

  5. void says:

    Why does it say that there are only four responses but only show three?

    Are the free, open for all, democracy to the people advocates still purging comments that are unflattering to them? Let me guess, somebody posted up pointing out that none of these are actually concessions, as the university has already made all of the cuts that it wants to, and has no objection to opening up a postgrad club other than that it should be viable (a restriction they will still have in place)?

  6. Liam says:

    Hey fiddlestix, the SMG did roll back on much of the cuts proposals which were announced in February – including languages, nursing (1 year reprieve), archaeology, anthropology (to an extent) and adult education. Slavonics and Liberal Arts at Dumfries Campus are still being cut. However, they have promised us that they are planning no more course cuts in the immediate future.

  7. Mike C says:

    “…they are planning no more course cuts in the immediate future”. Worries me a little.

  8. Well done to get this. It is indeed a victory. Of course not a total victory. Until capitalism is ended there is no such thing as a complete victory, so ignore the doom mongers and couch potatoes

  9. remember all those right-wing scum bags who were slaging you off a few months ago on this very sight? where are they now? they are nowhere and nobody.

    well done all participants. you are creatures of history now.

  10. Nina Power says:

    Fantastic work – shows what can be done with determination and courage.

  11. John Rees says:

    Brilliant victory!

  12. Bryan Simpson says:

    The Free Hetherington occupation has been at the heart of the anti-cuts movement in Glasgow for more than half a year now and we are sad to see it end. It has inspired some of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the city including a 2,000 march on Senate and similar occupations at Strathclyde and elsewhere. What the success of the Hetherington highlights is that the only way we can beat the likes of Anton Muscatelli and Jim McDonald and defend ourselves against these attacks on our education and our welfare state is through direct action. Solidarity from Strathclyde University Anti-Cuts Action Network.

  13. Steve says:

    Occupations work! Well done everybody!

  14. Pingback: Student protesters declare victory as Glasgow University sit-in ends « ULU Campaigner

  15. john says:

    from a Glasgow uni lawyer:

    the University
    will have no problem honouring all commitments, as in effect they are
    utterly without substance (note the timeframes, and query the definition
    of ‘the near future’):

    Having requested and absentee vote – this is the info sent:

    In our negotiations with university management, they have:

    Confirmed that no students or staff will face disciplinay action by the
    university, provided that we leave voluntarily

    Assured us that there are no more course cuts planned in the near future

    Assured us that no compulsory redundancies are planned in the near future

    Assured us that no cuts to student services are planned in the near future

  16. john says:

    from a student at the glasgow Guardian website: – yes, this is the “victory”:

    I am actually quite disgusted at the self congratulatory way in which the occupiers have handled their finale. I was not involved in the occupation and did support it for a while, and study in one of the threatened departments. They claim to have achieved a victory, but how and for who remains unclear. Courses are still being cut and people may loose their jobs.

    These points which they have agreed with management are entirely without substance. My understanding is that they were assured there will be no course cuts and no jobs losses ‘in the near future’. What does that even mean? Court went against the wishes of the senate when it voted to close Slavonic Studies. If court have shown a willingness to overlook the views of senate – a body comprised of hundreds of senior academics – to think that an ambiguous agreement with an informal group of students would have any kind of influence is downright delusional. They have been duped.

    If they wanted to negotiate an end to the occupation then fine. But portraying this as some kind of victory is grossly misleading, and overshadows the fact that course are still being cut, and people may still loose their jobs.

  17. skumbogumbo says:

    Well done!! It must have been really hard to keep it up for so long-I really hope they stick by their promises.

  18. Peter Hallward says:

    Many congratulations, this sounds like fantastic news, an inspiration to everyone trying to protect embattled programmes, all over the country.

  19. mike smith says:

    welldone every one keep up the solidarity

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