UoN threatens students occupying Trent Building with court action if they do not leave

The uni says the occupation is ‘not lawful’

In a “notice to vacate”, The University of Nottingham has threatened the occupiers in the Trent Building with court proceedings if they do not leave.

In the notice obtained by The Tab Nottingham, the uni states it supports “lawful freedom of speech and freedom of assembly”, but says that the current occupation of the Trent Building is “not lawful” and “amounts to an act of trespass”.

The students have been occupying in support of striking lecturers and the demands of the UCU for over a week.

The notice in full

The notice, which the occupiers say was placed on the door of the occupation, states that students occupying the building had to leave by 9am yesterday, Thursday 7 April. Failure to do so, it says, will result in removal of the students from the premises “by issue of court proceedings”.

The uni says that the students “do not have any license, permission or consent from the University to occupy.” It adds, “whatever license or permission or consent” which the occupiers considered they had are withdrawn by the notice, although the university also says it does not “admit” the occupiers ever had any.

This is not the first time students have occupied university buildings. A group of students occupied the Engineering and Science Learning Centre in May last year demanding tuition fee and rent rebate. In 2019, an occupation in the Trent Building also took place.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “Whilst we have facilitated peaceful protest and the University supports lawful freedom of speech, the current occupation is not lawful and it amounts to an act of trespass. We have therefore served notice to vacate the building.

“Although this is a national dispute, action is already being taken locally that would address some of the grievances expressed in the industrial action by UCU members. Nottingham is already piloting a model of Graduate Teaching Assistant contracts to end the use of casual contracts, and the expectation is that this model will be extended to many more, if not all, Schools for 2022/23.

“The national pay award under dispute is combined with local pay increases and rewards paid by the University which means that a significant proportion of our staff received pay increases in August of between 3.5% and 4.5%. We are also working to actively reduce our gender and ethnic pay gaps.

“Universities UK proposals, backed up by £1.3 billion support from universities, have been approved by the Joint Negotiating Committee to provide an affordable and sustainable solution to the USS pension scheme’s 2020 valuation alongside opportunities to explore lower cost flexible options, alternative scheme designs, and a review of the scheme’s governance.”