Student protestors occupy Queens Building

Forget Sabbs: meet the Exeter student protestors occupying Queens Building

Occupy Occupy Exeter University the tab the tab exeter University of Exeter

Throughout this week, alongside the wannabe Sabbs – with their felt-tipped t-shirts and rhyming, cringe-inducing slogans (#TakeTheBate) – there is another form of politics going on around campus: Occupy Queens Building.

Protesting against student loan privatisation, whilst also defending their right to demonstrate, a group of 10-20 Exeter undergraduates will be living inside the Senior Common Room in Queens Building until Friday evening.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 20.35.46

One of the occupiers, occupying himself

According to Occupy Exeter University’s website, “the occupation is part of a national week of action called by the Students’ Assembly Against Austerity, with actions taking place at 45 campuses across the country.”

Lucy, a second year Theology student, one of the occupiers in Queens, said: “there will be no cap on the interest rate [if students loans are sold to private companies], so we might have to up to eighty grand [£80,000].

“At the moment they have privatised the old [student] loans from the 90s,” she continued, “and they are planning on doing it ours as well, so we want to get in before that happens basically.”

Responding to how they entertained themselves, Louis, a first year student, said: “People just do as they would in their own home. It’s all about showing your face, really, and showing there are a core of people dedicated to the cause.”

Queens Building: 5* accommodation

Queens Building: 5* accommodation

A third year Politics undergraduate, meanwhile, described the occupation of Queens Building as a “gratuitous waste of time and resources that carries no real weight and hijacks attention away from where it is needed.”

Back in December 2013, when the UK government announced it would privatise student loans from the 1990s, the Students’ Guild described the decision as “sudden” and “worrying.”

Alex Louch, VP Academic Affairs, said: “The sale of approximately £900 million of student debt from the public to the private sector has taken place with very little consultation and sets a worrying precedent.

“These sudden and significant changes to student finance and I will be working with key partners in the Guild, the University and wider academic community to plan how we will react and protect the interests of our students.”

'Privatisation of education'

A rain-smudged ‘Stop privatisation of education’ banner