After some short speeches given on a fully open tribune, many of those at the rally attempted to discuss matters with the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Louise Richardson on her policies to further restrict access to the University from lower income students.
The rally briefly turned into a march as it made its way through the supportive graduating students assembled in St Salvator’s Quad with their parents. Students, frustrated at the lack of accountability and transparency that Management has shown to date, attempted to gain entry to Lower College Hall where Dr Richardson was hosting an invitations-only lunch.
After the doors were forcefully shut by members of the University Estates Department, the marchers decided to move on to somewhere warmer and more welcoming in order to conduct a General Assembly to decide upon the future direction of the campaign. Making their way to the Old Psychology Library, they were harassed by the members of the Estates Department and the head of campus security.
Upon reaching the Old Psychology Library they were immediately locked in by Estates, who denied them freedom of movement and bathroom access. It is believed that this policy came directly from the upper Management. A sit-in was rapidly established, and the General Assembly held.
Protesters used the General Assembly to formulate a list of demands which include pledges from the University for more transparency, accountability in fiscal decision-making, a rejection of all front-line teaching staff cuts and a freeze on any redundancies until there is a truly open student and staff consultation on the matter.
More protests are expected in St Andrews, as more information about the way in which the University plans to carry out Dr Richardson’s policy of “commercialisation” are made public. According to a recent meeting with Dr. Richardson, this policy will likely entail excluding students based on economic background, targeting ‘inefficient’ or insolvent departments and a producing more ‘marketable’ education.
The protest on Tuesday was part of a coordinated day of action called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which saw demonstrations, teach-ins and occupations throughout the UK. The NCAFC has called three more days of action on the 5th and 11th of December, as well as on the 9th to coincide with the Parliamentary vote on tuition fee increases.