University room occupied in protest

— Later update with University of Lincoln statement*

Several students and local campaigners have occupied a room in the main building of the University of Lincoln to protest against proposed education reforms.

Around 30 people, mainly students and local campaigners, occupied the room at the university after a march through the city earlier in the day.

All the protesters are gathered in a seminar room at the first floor of the building, and were quietly seated, while another lecture took place nearby.

Protesters say they intend to stay as long as they can, possibly overnight, and access to the room is not restricted.

“I’ve just turned up and there are a bunch of students occupying the university,” said a 20-year-old student from the lecture room.

“I don’t know who is organising it, but this just comes to show the anger of Lincoln students, like many around the country.”

One man, Nick Parker, seemed to be in the know of what was actually happening, as he was preparing to play protest video clips on the room’s projector.

He said: “A group of students protested against the rise in tuition fees, massive cuts in the education budget, and decided to organise a peaceful occupation.

“They are exercising the right to peaceful protest against the cuts that are being planned. I’m just participating,” he said.

University of Lincoln Students’ Union President Chris Charnley came to see what was happening, and had nothing to declare.

*”The University supports students’ right to peaceful protest but will be endeavouring to ensure that timetables and teaching are not disrupted,” said a University of Lincoln spokesperson.

This is the second time University of Lincoln students protested against the proposed Government cuts over the past few weeks.

In November they took to the streets alongside students from Bishop Grosseteste and Lincoln College, chanting and cheering with homemade banners.

Last week students also planned to boycott Conservative Lincoln MP’s Karl McCartney’s surgery at the City Hall over his stance on raising tuition fees.

The protest was cancelled at the last-minute due to adverse weather conditions and McCartney’s surgery postponed because of City Hall’s closure.

In a previous statement McCartney said the huge increase in undergraduates is welcome but the challenge now is how this can be afforded.

“The Coalition has had to make a series of tough choices in the light of the financial mess left by the last Labour Government, not least in respect of university funding.

“In short, the taxpayer is not an everlasting piggy bank available just for students’ or Higher Education funding.

“I am glad there will still not be upfront fees, that the fees are capped, the threshold for repayment has been increased to £21,000 and there is more help for those from families on low incomes.”