Students to end university sit-in


University of Kent students have occupied the Senate building since December 8

A group of students plan to end their four-week long occupation of a university building in protest at rises in tuition fees and education cuts.

The students have been staging a sit-in at the Senate building at the University of Kent in Canterbury since December 8 and remained there throughout Christmas and New Year.

University officials were attempting to regain control of the building by seeking a possession order at a hearing at Canterbury County Court on Friday. But the students plan to leave the building peacefully at 2pm, saying they felt they had done enough to highlight their cause.

One of the occupiers, 20-year-old philosophy student Ben Stevenson, said: “We are still very much in dispute with the university and we will be continuing our campaigning once we are out.”

The students want the university and its vice-chancellor Julia Goodfellow to condemn the Government’s plans publicly.

Their occupation was a reaction to Prof Goodfellow signing a letter, published in the Daily Telegraph on December 8, endorsing a rise in tuition fees. Prof Goodfellow has since written an open letter in which she said she deplored cuts to higher education funding, but the students said this did not meet their demands.

The students have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in the hope that as a visitor to the university he would act as mediator but they have so far received no reply.

The occupiers said that the “savage cuts and substantial rise in fees should not be under-estimated”.

The students alleged that the heating was turned off during the cold weather, that they have been unable to leave the building for fresh air and that their internet connection was cut.

People have been turning up with food donations for them and they have been passing the time watching films and maintaining contact with supporters via Twitter and Facebook using a 3G dongle.

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