Over a hundred students are occupying buildings on university campuses around the UK

Occupations at Cambridge, Nottingham and Sussex are ongoing

Over a hundred students are currently involved in occupations of university buildings on campuses around the UK.

Student activists are camping out in university property to show support for lecturers who are currently on strike over concerns surrounding pay and pensions.

At the time of writing, there are active occupations at the University of Cambridge, the University of Sussex, Sheffield Hallam University, and the University of Nottingham. Occupations at the University of Sheffield and the University of Liverpool concluded last week.


Students occupying a building at the University of Nottingham

The occupations have sprung up at universities of their own accord, but a national activist group called Red Square Movement is now co-ordinating the effort, with members positioned in each of the occupations.

A spokesperson for Red Square Movement told The Tab: “We believe in a university education that is free, critical, open and accessible to all. We fight to repurpose and transform our universities to fulfil societal needs: those of students, staff and local communities, as well as to build the strength of wider movements for social, racial, environmental and economic justice.

“As students, this fight is our fight too. So we’ve been working to link up the occupations, share resources and promote and show off all the amazing work students have been doing to support our staff and encourage others to join students on the picket lines and in occupations.”

Unsurprisingly, universities have not welcomed the news. The University of Sussex told activists they had “broken the law” and threatened “disciplinary action against everyone known to be involved.”

The National Union of Students (NUS) has come out strongly in support of the occupations, calling on universities to refrain from punishing the activists involved.

“We stand firmly against the threats used by university management desperate to sever the solidarity between staff and students,” a spokesperson for the NUS said. “These tactics are unconscionable. Universities’ pursuit of punitive sanctions against students for supporting staff, while condemning the strike as harming students, is hypocrisy.”

Here’s exactly what’s going down at universities across the UK:

University of Cambridge

This morning, 50 student activists launched an occupation of the Sidgwick Building, saying: “We stand in solidarity with UCU to fight against a higher education system where workers are pushed into ever-increasing financial precarity and for a free and liberated university.”

University of Sussex


Yesterday, 15 students occupied the Jubilee Building in at the University of Sussex in support of striking lecturers, forcing some lectures to be shifted online.

It’s safe to say the uni’s senior management team were not best pleased. Director for the Student Experience at the University of Sussex sent them a little note, which read: “We want to ensure you are aware that you have breached university regulations, and you have also broken the law with unlawful entry to the premises.

“We understand that you wish to make a point and you have but you are disrupting the eduction of hundreds of your fellow students in taking this action. Therefore, we will give you an hour to vacate the premises, and would urge you to do this. If you decide not to vacate the premises then we will be taking disciplinary action against everyone known to be involved.”

Sheffield Hallam University


Sheffield Hallam students have also got in on the act, with a group occupying Charles Street Building.

One rent striker told The Star: “We understand the disruption being caused, but feel there has been no other choice. After decades of pay cuts and worsening working conditions, our staff are at breaking point and so is our learning environment. We will continue to stand by our staff and put pressure on management, in a joint fight for a better education.”

The University of Nottingham

Students in Nottingham are showing their support for lecturers by occupying both Coates Auditorium and Keighton Auditorium.

They have a whole host of demands, and tweeted: “The university continues to put profit first and disregard student and staffs issue and this needs to change for a better education!”

A spokesperson for the University of Nottingham told The Tab: “We will livestream a small number of Law lectures over the next 24 hours to minimise the disruption caused to other students by protesters at the Coates Road auditorium. We are monitoring the situation to ensure the protest is conducted peacefully and safely.”

University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield is no stranger to an occupation, with rent strikers taking over the Arts Tower in April last year.

Last week, students at the University of Sheffield occupied a total of five buildings on campus, including the Arts Tower. As well as the action being an expression of solidarity with striking lecturers, the occupying group were also protesting the closure of its archaeology department. Some lectures were moved online as a result of the disruption caused.

One of the students involved in the occupation told The Tab: “We’ve chosen to occupy multiple buildings because university management have given us no option but to escalate, and so we are showing them that we will not back down.

“If they are determined to close down one of the most renowned archaeology departments in the world, then we will make things difficult for them while they do.”

At the time, a spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “We are in contact with the students who are occupying the buildings and we hope that the situation is resolved as soon as possible.”

The occupation at the University of Sheffield concluded on Sunday. At the time of writing, the occupations at Sussex, Sheffield Hallam, Cambridge and Nottingham are all ongoing. The University of Cambridge and Sheffield Hallam University have been contacted for comment.

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