‘Sit in’ students thrown out of university protest

Students who occupied a London Metropolitan University building for five days in protest at planned course cuts were thrown out by bailiffs.

The protesters claimed they had been the subject of intimidation by security staff hired by the university.

On May 4, a group of 60 students began the sit-in at the graduate building in Holloway Road, in protest at the university’s decision to cut 70 per cent of courses in the summer.

But despite London Met chiefs agreeing to allow the peaceful protest, the remaining 20 were ejected at 11.30pm on Monday night, hours before the vice chancellor, Professor Malcolm Gillies, was due to meet them.

From the second day of the demonstration, students say security officers had been playing music all night and breaking the terms of the protest by entering the occupation area.

Claire Locke, president elect of the student union, said: “There was an agreement between myself and the head of security that the occupied room would be for students only.

“Now they have thrown the protesters out because they say they will disrupt exams, but this was addressed before the protest started – it is being held in a different room to the exams.

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“This has happened just before they were due to have a meeting with the vice chancellor. It’s another example of him not wanting to meet with the people whose education he is ruining.”

A spokesman for the university said: “We made the decision to take legal action because the sit-in was impacting on the university’s teaching, research and administrative operations.

“There was also concern that disruption would be caused to examinations taking place at the university. The university fully recognises the democratic right of our students to protest, providing such protest is free from violence and does not adversely impact on the university’s teaching, research and administrative operations. We will continue to work closely with students, the students’ union and staff as we respond to the exceptional changes in the higher education sector.”