Thursday, April 1, 2010

Staff and students reclaim King’s College

Last Tuesday’s (30 March) strike in defence of education at King’s exceeded all expectations. More than 250 people joined loud and vibrant picket lines on all four King’s campuses. Security guards at one campus indicated that numbers entering their building were as much as 75% down. At the main building on the Strand only a small trickle of students and staff went in.

Support for the strike was boosted after the latest hapless intervention by senior management, who refused to allow non-UCU staff to take annual leave yesterday. This prompted more than sixty of those obliged to work on the Strand to sign a card expressing solidarity with the pickets. Members of other unions on all sites brought refreshments out to colleagues on strike and stood with them during breaks. Local cafes displayed UCU material explaining our reasons for striking. Students brought cakes for pickets, played musical instruments, set up stalls and hung a huge banner over the entrance to the Strand: ‘Education massacre: do not enter.’

Messages of support have flooded in from King’s alumni, students and non-UCU staff, as well as from universities and colleges across the country. Colleagues brought solidarity greetings and donations in person from UCL, Westminster, QMW, London Metropolitan University, the Institute of Education, Southwark College, City and Islington College, Tower Hamlets College, the University of the Arts and the London Nautical School. Supporters also came along from local workplaces, including the National Theatre and the National Gallery, and from other unions, including the NUT, PCS, Unite and Unison.

Around 50 people attended a lunchtime rally at Waterloo, while more than 200 students joined pickets for a rally on the Strand, which took place in an electric atmosphere. The huge crowd heard speeches from UCU representatives at King’s and elsewhere, from members of other unions and from a Sussex student who told of their struggles with their own management. Many students heard for the first time of the appalling treatment of our colleagues in Engineering by King’s management. The ‘We Support our Teachers’ campaign was a lively presence throughout the day. Dozens of students expressed their disdain at the way the College’s senior management addresses them in Orwellian ‘Newspeak’. Many have written to the Principal and Vice-Principal complaining that they feel patronised by senior management.

Our campaign in defence of education at King’s is partly about our colleagues’ livelihoods, and about the lack of regard shown to them by senior management. But it is clear that it is also about much more than this. The creeping culture of managerialism in universities is also an issue. The support we have received from students, and from colleagues who are either members of other unions, or not yet members of UCU, is an indication that this campaign is also about defending the values that underpin education at King’s and elsewhere, which include collegiality, respect for individuals, cooperation, intellectual integrity and academic independence.

The verve, humour, creativity and imagination of yesterday’s pickets offered us all a glimpse of the potential that exists within this institution for staff and students to make education at King’s more rewarding and more enjoyable. All too often this potential is either stifled or by-passed by the dead hand of senior management.

Our thanks and congratulations go to all who took part yesterday, and to everyone who showed their support for our campaign. Senior management teams across the country are offering no resistance to government cuts. They are determined to follow the example set by King’s and impose redundancies and department closures on their staff and students. The magnificent collective response to these attacks that we have seen at Leeds, Sussex, Kent and King’s is a powerful reminder to all that if we stand together we can defend our education system from the ministers and managers who want to turn it into a marketplace.

Jim Wolfreys

President KCL UCU

Please continue to send donations and messages of support to:

For more information on our dispute see:

UCU London Region Demo Report:

Around 1,000 students and workers from higher and further education joined the lively and vocal march on Downing Street on Saturday March 20th in protest against the government's education cuts. Delegations were present from many institutions including Queen Mary's, Westminster, University College, King's College, London Met, City and Islington College, Hackney College, CONEL, London College of Fashion and many others. A large group of staff and students from Sussex University joined the march, after their victory over management the previous week. Other trade unionists also brought their banners and solidarity to the demonstration, including teachers and civil servants. At a rally outside Downing Street, Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary-elect for the NUT, and Austin Harney from the PCS spoke amongst others. A petition was then taken to Downing Street condemning the cuts in higher and further education.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Education Activist Network meeting for London & SE

Following the success of the over 300-strong Teach-In last month, events have accelerated.

Ballots for strike action are underway or imminent at King’s, UCL and Westminster, along with London FE institutions. Student sit-ins have taken place in Essex, Sussex, UCL and Westminster. Now Sussex UCU are set for strike action following an unprecedented 80% turn out in their ballot, with an overwhelming majority for action, and the break-up of a student occupation by riot police.

There is clearly a need to coordinate action and to share lessons from our collective fight against education cuts, and to build solidarity with the suspended students and victimized lecturers in Sussex. We are calling on activists from London and across the south-east to come together next Tuesday at 6.30pm at King’s (room details to follow):

Organising the resistance: the fight to defend education

Speakers from Sussex, King’s, UCL, Westminster.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Room tbc
Strand Campus, King's College London

Videos from Take Back Education Teach-in - 27th Feb 2010 - King's College London

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This Saturday over 300 students and university workers came to King’s College London to unite and fight against the cuts in higher and further education, at a mass teach-in hosted by the London Education Activist Network. Participants included lecturers who have defeated cuts through industrial action in Tower Hamlets College and Leeds University, and students who have been campaigning to defend their education in universities from Sussex to Strathclyde.
After a day of lively workshops, the electric final session included a report from Nikos Lountos, an Athens student who reported from the general strikes in Greece. Popular left-wing academic Terry Eagleton warned that the economic crisis was being used as a pretext to radically restructure universities. And perhaps the warmest response was given to Lesley McGorrigan from Leeds UCU, who explained how an active and political union branch could unite its members and defeat the resolve of management.

The teach-in was a success, but it was only the beginning. Delegates agreed on a plan of action (below), including regional teach-ins to replicate the experience of the day on our campuses, a regular bulletin to coordinate actions and campaigns on a national level, and a pledge to build resistance and solidarity in defence of jobs and education.


Education is under attack. Up to a third of university funding – £2.5bn – is to be cut, 30 universities could shut down and over 14,000 lecturers may lose their jobs. Big businesses exert more and more control over the university system. Cuts in student places and higher fees could exclude many people from higher education altogether.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Education workers are winning through strike action. Student protests are taking off across Europe, with universities occupied to stop neoliberal reforms – and to take control of campus for another kind of education. From this conference we resolve build on this resistance, and:

1. To support, build and encourage action against education cuts through demonstrations, student occupations and industrial action. To build solidarity with these struggles through inviting strikers, occupiers and others to speak at our college/union/campaign meetings; organising petitions, collections, and solidarity demonstrations and occupations.

2. To organise regional teach-ins on the Take Back Education model. To launch regional education action networks from these that can help develop local networks of resistance and spread the kind of action that can win.

3. To organise a national coordination from here to help coordinate and spread our resistance nationally. This coordination should produce and distribute without delay a national bulletin carrying reports and announcements from this teach-in and the developing local struggles. It will help to spread the resistance when people move into action.

4. To mobilise for and support the London wide demonstration called by London region UCU to defend education on March 20th and other initiatives such as the no cuts at Westminster demonstration on Monday 1st, the Leeds UCU demo Thursday 4th march, and No Cuts @ Kings protest on sat 13th march.

5. To recognise the cuts in education as part of a broader attack on the public sector, and the need for solidarity across the sector. To support and mobilise for the national demonstration against public sector cuts on the 10th April.

6. To organise through our respective trade unions, students unions, local anti-cuts groups, campaigns and organisations support for a national demonstration to defend education in the autumn.

Over 200 staff and students at the University of Westminster have protested, stormed the board of governors meeting and are currently in occupation, vice-chancellors office, in regard to recently proposed tutoring and administrative job cuts.
For more details, see their blog.

We aim to produce the first of the bulletins in time for the rallies at Leeds and UEA this week. If you would like to subit any reports, announcements or photos please reply to this address. Articles will also appear at

Monday, March 1, 2010



Over 200 staff and students at the University of Westminster have protested, stormed the board of governors meeting and are currently in occupation, vice-chancellors office, in regard to recently proposed tutoring and administrative job cuts.

Management are planning to slash 285 jobs by April and this follows the closures of the ceramics department and the nursery. Recently, over 150 staff and students placed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the vice-chancellor and his management at a rally addressing Westminster's severe proposed job cuts, on February, 17.

The vice-chancellor has openly declared that job cuts are the initiative of the governors, not his. Well, demonstrators asked him for themselves, after storming past security and into the governor’s meeting. They were greeted by a board of governors who were ‘quaking in their boots;’ shortly after students persuaded Geoffrey Petts, the VC, to stick around and answer some questions which he hesitated to on the first instance but then proceed to do with a full bureaucratic and dismissive tone.

Our demands to the vice-chancellor are:

A) Issue a statement on the avoidance of redundancies

B) Make freely available to the unions in the university appropriate financial documents

C) Produce alternative, sustainable plans for addressing the financial gap over the next several years.

Join us, over 40 students are currently occupying at Regents Campus, V-C's office!

Demonstrate Tomorrow (TUES)
309 REGENT STREET, nr Oxford Circus Tube

Friday, February 26, 2010

TEACH - IN TOMORROW - Over 370 people are booked up for the event already!

Take Back Education Teach In: Saturday 27th Feb, 11-4pm, Kings College, (Registration from 10.15am)

Please see below for a provisional timetable. Over 370 people are booked up for the event already. If you haven't yet booked up do so now and please bring as many friends and colleagues as possible - We don't want anyone to miss out!

The venue is:

Strand Building
King's College London
London WC2
There will be further directions when you arrive.

11am-12.30 Opening Plenary
The crisis in our universities and the battle for education

Jeremy Corbyn MP
Juan C Piedra Justice for Cleaners
Jim Wolfreys President KCL UCU
Sarah Young Sussex Uni occupation
Michal Rosen poet and education campaigner

12.30-1.30pm lunch

1.30-3pm workshops

1. The corporate takeover of our universities (RM: Lucas Theatre)
Stathis Kouvalakis lecturer and radical theorist
Alex Callinicos lecturer and author Universities in a neoliberal world

2. Reclaiming our student unions (RM: S-1.06)
James Haywood NUS NEC
Daff Addley LGBT NUS

3. Education for liberation –what should our education look like? (RM: S-1.27)
Patrick Ainley author 'Education Make You Fick, Innit?’
Gargi Bhattacharyya professor of sociology and author

4. 1968 – what can we learn from the fire last time? (RM S.2.23)
Mike Gonzalez 1968er and author

5. Education for all – challenging Islamophobia, racism and points based immigration (RM K2.40)
Assed Baig Staffs SU President
Arun Kundnani Institute of Race Relations (invited)

3-4pm Final Plenary

The tasks ahead – taking back our education
Terry Eagleton
Lesley McGorrigan Officer Leeds Uni UCU
Nikos Lountos Panteion University, Athens
Alison Lord Tower Hamlets UCU
Student from No Cuts @ Kings

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ADDITIONAL SPEAKER - Eyewitness from general strikes in GREECE!

New additional speaker Nikos Loudos will be giving an eye witness report from the general strikes and occupations against the effects of the crisis and the cut backs in GREECE.

Plus a striking lecturer from Leeds, a Sussex student occupier, Terry Eagleton, Michael Rosen, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Alex Callinicos, Juan Carlos Piedra Justice for Clearners, Gargi Battacharyia UCU, Assed Baig Staffs SU President, Stathis Kouvelakis, Daff Adley NUS LGBT amongst others.

Workshops include the crisis and the battle for education, challenging racism and Islamophobia; the corporate take over of education, what should our education look like?, reclaiming our unions, 1968 – what can we learn from the fire last time?, the tasks ahead – taking back our education.

As strikes spread across Europe…come to the “Take Back Education” teach-in this Saturday to organise and strengthen the resistance and to roll back the government’s attacks.

Management at Leeds University have been put on the backfoot by lecturers' strike threats; other colleges and universities are now starting the process of balloting to strike; the teach-in will be an important step in building the resistance to the massive attacks in education.

Register now! Invite others! Forward this message far and wide!

Take Back Education - 3 days left 'til the teach-in

There is an unprecedented attack on tertiary education with cuts estimated as high as £2.5bn - or 1/3 of total HE funding. Upwards of 14,000 jobs could be in the firing line and many institutions could close altogether. We need a united campaign, not just to save jobs but also to defend education.

3 days left 'til the teach-in – share this message with everyone you know:


Tickets available at
(£6 waged, £3 unwaged)

The No Cuts @ King's campaign and King's UCU are hosting a mass teach-in this Saturday. The event is aimed at both students and education workers from across the country and will be full of alternative lectures and tutorials. Hundreds are signed up already; make sure you're there too!

Sessions include:

• The crisis in our universities and the battle for education
• The tasks ahead – building resistance that can win
• The corporate takeover of our universities
• Reclaiming our students' unions
• Education for liberation – what could our education look like?
• Education for all – challenging Islamophobia, racism and points based immigration
• 1968 – what can we learn from the fire last time?

The line up includes:

• Terry Eagleton – literary critic
• Alison Lord – UCU branch chair from the victorious campaign to stop cuts at Tower Hamlets college
• Michael Rosen – poet and education campaigner
• Jeremy Corbyn MP – member of Parliament for Islington North
• Nikos Lountos – activist from Greece
• Alex Callinicos – author of Education in a Neoliberal World and professor at Kings College London
• Daf Adley & James Haywood – NUS Executive
• Juan Carlos Piedra – Justice for Cleaners
• Stathis Kouvelakis – Lecturer and author
• Lesley McGorrigan – Officer at Leeds University UCU who are striking against cuts
• Mike Gonzalez – 1968 activist and author
• Patrick Ainley – author of Education Make You Fick Innit
• Sarah Young – student from Sussex University occupation
• Gargi Bhattacharyya – author and professor of sociology
• Assed Baig & Tara Hewitt – students union officers
• Jim Wolfreys – president King’s College London UCU

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Education Activists Meeting

Many thanks to everyone who attended the activists meeting last night. We had over 120 people there, including UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, who addressed the meeting. After an excellent discussion, we agreed the following:

1) Tuesday 26 January. UCU lobby of parliament. Staff and students from across London to assemble 1pm King’s College London, Strand entrance. Leaflet downloadable to the right*.

2) Wednesday 27 January. Activists committee, made up on one member from UCU, Unite, Unison from each institution, and one student from each institution, to meet 6.30pm, KCL. Room details to follow.

3) Saturday 27 February. Teach-in for staff and students across London, in defence of education against the market, to be held at KCL and organized by the above committee.

4) Saturday 20 March. We support the call for a national demonstration in defence of education and will use all available channels to win backing for this from the appropriate trade unions.

In solidarity,
Jim Wolfreys
President, KCL UCU

* Text in leaflet may need resizing on different computers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

London-wide HE activists meeting with UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt

20 January, 6.30pm, King’s College London,
Strand K6.29

Peter Mandelson’s announcement just before Christmas that university funding in England is to be cut by £398m for 2010-11 has raised the stakes in the fight to defend higher education. For London Colleges the need for coordinated action, already urgent, has now become imperative. We need a massive turnout of staff and students for the lobby of parliament on 26 January and a strategy for defending jobs in HE.

To this end we are calling on all staff and student activists across London to come to King’s on Wednesday 20 January to organise for the 26th and beyond.

(This meeting was originally planned for 19th January but Sally Hunt was unable to make this date. Given the scale of the crisis in HE we felt it was important for her to attend).

Jim Wolfreys

President, KCL UCU

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Report on Defend Jobs, Defend Education – London activist meeting:

Called by King’s College London UCU – Supported by No Cuts at King’s & London Region UCU

Over 90 staff and student activists from universities across London and beyond met at King’s College on Tuesday 15th December to discuss ways of giving a united focus to the fight to defend jobs and education across the capital. Many activists had come straight from the 500 strong protest against cuts at London Metropolitan University (which resulted in the entire board of governors resigning later that evening!). Institutions represented included: UCL, Westminster Uni, Westminster College, London College of Communication, Tower Hamlets College, Queen Mary University, Goldsmiths, London Metropolitan, Sussex, King’s College, SOAS, University of the Arts London, and others.

The meeting was introduced by Jim Wolfreys, President of King’s UCU, who explained that it had been called in response to an escalating crisis in higher education caused by government attacks on the one hand and the desire, on the other, of HE management to use the present financial situation as a pretext to restructure their institutions. Staff and students across London needed to join together in defence of education or the situation would fragment, leaving management and the government a free hand to wreck higher education.

A number of speakers stressed the scale of the cuts being imposed, with some facing redundancy themselves. There was a general feeling that we can no longer wait, but that we must act now to stop these cuts. Richard from Tower Hamlets UCU told the meeting how his college went on all out strike for four weeks and successfully fought off all compulsory redundancies, including saving 300 vital ESOL places. He said that the solidarity from trade unionists across London and beyond, who raised over £30,000, was crucial in their victory. During the meeting, Joel from King’s UCU raised a collection and circulated a Christmas card in support of IT workers at Fujitsu due to strike on the 18th December over cuts and attacks on their pensions.

Jesse from UCL UCU, said that because principals and vice-chancellors meet to plan together, we must do the same. In order to organise and co-ordinate further actions an open organising meeting was suggested, provisionally called the ‘London Education Action Committee’, on the 19th January. All those interested in attending should contact:

The meeting agreed to build and support the mass lobby of parliament called by the national UCU union on the 26th of January, mobilising students and lecturers to gather at the Strand and march on parliament. The meeting also decided to call a rally at King’s in the first few weeks of February to build the campaign and to challenge the marketisation of our education system.

Quoting the demonstrators at London Met, one activist said of the university management and the new movement: “They are the past, we are the future”.