May, 1998
from a pamphlet by William Walwyn, 1647.
23 May 1998
1700 GMT updated 25th May, 1998

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Student + Staff Occupation, University of East London, May 1998

edited by the Culture and Innovation Collective, London May 23rd, 1998

In the certain knowledge that this situation will not be completely unfamiliar to you:

Thirty Years After The Events of May 1968, University of East London (UEL) students have occupied Barking Campus buildings with the full support of staff and growing support from staff and students across the country and knowledge workers internationally.
The UEL Occupation Press

T: 0956 628108



"The library has been closed by Management, even though we have stated that we will NOT occupy the library. We want to maintain the education system to its optimum capacity. Alternative lectures will take place in the Brooker building. Everything else is CLOSED". the Students of UEL, 21st May, 1998

" is our view that our protests are relevant not merely to London, England, or even Europe.. We believe that our particular struggle at this time reflects struggles and problems faced by you - yesterday, today and probably tomorrow. The commercialisation and 'rational' restructuring of education is part of those strategies designed to increase competative pressures among people working and studying in colleges around the world. These strategies go under many names - neoliberalism, capitalism, globalisation etc. yet they all have the same meaning. That is that colleges around the world are increasingly turned into 'brain factories' and 'knowledge mills', in which education is increasingly turned into a work process quantified by the 'right' student-staff ratio and paid by student's poverty and staff's underpaid labour."

The faculties of York University, Toronto, Goldsmiths College, London and Ritsumiekan University in Kyoto are presently being approached to lend their support to guarantee the continuation of these publications and their vehicle, the Culture and Innovation Publishing Collective. We ask these faculties to do everything in their power to support our efforts, and if it is beyond their remit, we request that they extend their powers.

'Culture' is not a practice; nor is it simply the descriptive sum of the 'mores and folkways' of societies... . It is threaded through all social practices and is the sum of their inter-relationship... The 'culture' is those patterns of organization...which can be discovered as revealing themselves, in 'unexpected identities and correspondences' as well as 'in discontinuities of an unexpected kind', within or underlying all social practices.

-- Stuart Hall

Students Occupy University
of East London to save Lecturers'
jobs and to protect learning resources,
and they need your support.

In the certain knowledge that this situation will not be completely unfamiliar to you:

Thirty Years After The Events of May 1968, University of East London (UEL) students have occupied Barking Campus buildings with the full support of staff and growing support from staff and students across the country and knowledge workers internationally.

The student action followed announcements of 80 redundancies and 2.4 Million (pounds) of cuts to teaching and student services. The student-led occupation occured in the climate of continued restructuring of higher education in the UK, with the increased casualisation of the knowledge industries of education and media and in the broader community.

The occupation, which began in a single teaching building on Monday 18th May, received support of the lecturers' union NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Higher Education) on 20th May and spread amid remarkable scenes reminiscent of to the student actions of the 1960s to the administration building on 21st May, where students presently coordinate the action. Teaching and Lecturing have been uninterrupted, but University Management closed the Library and Information resources building as well as the campus network. Students and staff are demanding that these resources and networks are reopened.

They need your support.

UEL is unique in its supposed commitment to broadening access to higher education, underlined by the most culturally diverse student body in the country, with students drawn from a range of non-traditional educational backgrounds, a high proportion of mature students, and international students. As such it should be a model of Government policy in education for the new millennium. The Labour Government was elected on the promise of widening access to education and to knowledge resources: "the learning society" is still one of New Labour's soundbites. Staff and students at the University of East London are well-known for their long term and lively commitment to pursuing the ideals of widening access to education for all those who wish to learn. Management, however, have turned these ideals into empty rhetoric.

While the Government's strategy for the NHS (National Health Service) has been to sack managers and hire doctors, nurses and support staff, the university sector is still in the process of managing itself out of existence. While bosses of the privatised utility companies have been discouraged from paying themselves at the expense of customers, Frank Gould (Vice Chancellor) and other UEL 'fat cats' continue to benefit at the expense of students, staff and the broader community.

It is not only the gross incompetence with which they have carried out their responsibilities, but also their adherence to long discredited 80s management techniques, completely ignoring the advice of staff and students at every turn.

The students and staff require a competent management concerned with the appropriate allocation of knowledge resources and a revision of the management culture they have suffered under for so many years. We hope that elsewhere, in your schools, colleges and universities, you will show your solidarity by joining us in helping to bring about a solution. We seek a situation in which teaching and research are supported, rather than hindered by inappropriate administrative structures.

Despite the University's open access policy, despite its multicultural and international character, despite its enviable teaching and resrearch reputations, not enough students are coming to UEL. Far from fulfilling its remit to widen access, the university management has for years ignored staff and student calls for a creative recruitment strategy: indeed, any recruitment strateguy.

While certain departments in the University are internationally recognised for the excellence of their teaching and research in areas increasingly popular with undergraduates, there are not enough students being recruited to UEL.

The clear failure of the University management to fulfil its responsibilities has left staff and students with no choice but to demand radical reform of management structures, a reversal of the proposed budget cuts and a more approriate, thoughtful allocation of resources. We want a sustainable future for higher education.

The dispute looks likely to escalate. While UEL has sought an injunction against the students, NATFHE union members have voted unanimously to support their actions. The threat of police action has not dampened the determination, resolve and reforming spirit of students and staff.

The dispute should end with a rethinking of the kind of higher education we need to provide students with the literacies, skills and knowledges necessary for the future.

Please send your messages of support, your queries for information, and your solidarities and help (and we needs lots of help) from wherever you are to:

Email Address

Email complaints to and demand explanations from (Vice Chancellor) (Director of Finance and Estates)

The UEL Occupation Press

T: 0956 628108



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