PRESS RELEASE: Student protesters violently evicted by university


At around 4:30pm on Thursday 3rd March, bailiffs entered a property in Bedford Square owned by Royal Holloway, University of London in order to violently evict protesters. This is the first use of bailiffs against students by their own university in Britain in decades. Students and activists had taken over the property to create an “Anti-Cuts Space.”

The Anti-Cuts Space was created as a resource and meeting-place for activists and anyone involved in new social movements to fight the Government’s austerity measures. It was opened on Friday 25th February in a large Georgian house. The space aimed to revivify the student movement by making connections with wider anti-cuts struggles across London.

Throughout the occupation there was little negotiation offered by the university, and where communication existed the university Registrar, Mr. Simon Higman, backed up offers of discussion with threats of violent removal. Nonetheless, many members of staff, including many members of university unions UCU and Unison across the University of London, had expressed support for the occupation.

The occupiers received a notice to quit on Tuesday, followed by the delivery of court papers on Thursday only an hour before the case was to be heard, leaving no time for a legal defence of the protest to be prepared. By Wednesday afternoon a possession order had been issued by the high court.

During the eviction, bailiffs damaged the external and internal doors of the Grade 1 listed property. Upon eviction, the activists took to the streets, blocking Gower Street protesting that the bailiffs had prevented access to their property that had been left in the building. The police were forced to intervene, demanding that the bailiffs allow students access in order to retrieve these items.

The use of such force by a university against its own students marks a sad day for Higher Education in Britain. That an institution would inflict such violence upon its own members demonstrates the total alienation of students and managers within the sector.

We believe that such violence is never necessary, and hope that during imminent future occupations universities will feel no need to resort to such means. We hope that victimisation and abuse of protesters yesterday will serve as a stark reminder that education is about people, not buildings, about learning, not institutions.


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11 Responses to PRESS RELEASE: Student protesters violently evicted by university

  1. Social Work student says:

    First and foremost, your ‘occupation’ of 11 Bedford Square seems to have totally missed the point of what this form of protest stands for and it’s historical context.  An occupation of a particular building traditionally comes with a set of demands that directly relate to the institution the building houses or is related to, namely injustices and human rights issues that the institution is enforcing.  Your occupation of 11 Bedford Square did not come with any demands and so did not actually actually represent any form of protest, but instead, as you repeatedly state throughout this blog – was ‘a space’ for everyone and anyone to participate in the ‘anti cuts’ discourse.  Why could this ‘space’ not have been created elsewhere, one of your homes, a government building or a pub function room?  Somewhere that is at the forefront of austerity cuts? Instead you choose a functioning academic building, which due to your actions, severely disrupted lectures, seminars, tutor sessions and other events all week.  You say in your blog that you were willing to offer space for such activities, but you fail to consider that by chaining the front doors shut prevented any of this from happening, as it posed a health and safety/security risk.  Have you considered that RHU has spent thousands of pounds this week making alternative plans to ensure the teaching sessions could take place; this is hardly ‘anti cuts’ now is it?

    Your occupation of 11 Bedford Square was in no way in the spirit of what it means to use this mode of protest. In fact was the occupation even a protest at all? Instead you have inconvenienced my use of the building and that of my fellow students….

    Education is of course about people, but also needs buildings, resources and safety!

  2. psylo says:

    solidarity to you all

  3. Richard Ralph says:

    Find another building, do it again, make it BIG!

  4. EcoHustler says:

    Standing with you guys!

    you may find this post interesting:

  5. Mary says:

    It was only violent because you refused to peacefully comply with a court order. You have to accept responsibility for the violence.

  6. Stu says:

    Damn shame but much respect to all of you!!! SOS Reading x

  7. Jack says:

    Why didn’t they just go to the police instead of trying to ruin the publics day? Looked quite stupid as they say there and the traffic went round them, and deservedly so.

  8. Pete Rowley says:

    ‘no time to prepare a legal defense’?
    At what point is there a legal defense for occupying a building you don’t own and the owners do not wish you to occupy? That’s the way evictions go.

    By all means protest, but I suggest presenting your articles better if you want to actually gain any form of sympathetic suppot. The spin and wording of your article makes you come across as a militant bunch of activists more interested in the protest than the outcome. Not a very productive outcome if you actually want people to respond in support to these protests.

  9. Pingback: Organising meeting and forced eviction! « ROYAL HOLLOWAY ANTI CUTS ALLIANCE

  10. Pingback: students protest against education cuts in the UK | Mutant Space

  11. Ron says:

    Good. You had no right to be inside the building – you were occupying private property. You were given notice to vacate the premises, which you ignored. What did you expect would happen? To be given a bubble bath by the bailiffs?

    I know it may be hard for you all to accept, but your incessant moaning doesn’t constitute a right to occupy private property for as long as you see fit – no matter how you try and justify it.

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