Update - occupation of the Aston Webb building
Universities are places of free speech and we respect the rights of students and staff to protest peacefully and within the law. This is clearly outlined in our Freedom of Speech Code of Practice (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/university/legal/freedom-speech.pdf).
Our priority is the safety and well being of our students, staff and the wider community and we are concerned where any protest poses a potential hazard to protesters or bystanders, impacts on the education of our students, causes unwarranted disruptions to study or work, or damage to property. This occupation was not organised by the Guild of Students and it is regrettable that the action of this tiny, unrepresentative minority, has diverted resources, potentially diminishing both the safety and learning experience of our 28,000 other students, and harassed and intimidated staff trying to carry out their normal duties.
The 15 occupiers, who are not representative of the wider student body, have been free to leave the occupation over the last week but have chosen not to do so despite repeated requests from the University. Their action has caused disruption to more than 4,000 students by preventing them from accessing parts of the building used for teaching, prevented disabled staff and students from accessing the first floor of Aston Webb and prevented staff from leaving their offices. It has also raised significant safety issues for the occupiers themselves who have locked fire exits and barricaded staircases.
Regrettably, as a last resort, the University went to Court on Monday 25th November to obtain possession of the building. The court order was carried out this morning (Thursday 28th November) and the Senate Chamber and surrounding area have been returned to the University.
In addition to the possession order, the High Court judge awarded an injunction specifically preventing further occupation of the campus and its buildings by those involved, without prior consent of the University, for a period of 12 months. The injunction does not impact on the right of students or staff to protest peacefully and within the law anywhere on campus. We remain committed to engaging with students on key policy issues and there are a variety of democratic ways in which the legitimate concerns of students can be raised and responded to, for example via the 115 students who sit on key University committees.
Further details of the injunction can be downloaded as a pdf (PDF - 824KB)