1. Joint open statement by the LSE Students' Union, University and College Union (UCU), and Howard Davies (Director of the LSE) against the cuts, fees, and the attack on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

2. No victimisation of Students or Lecturers involved in the occupation or any protests against the cuts.

Sign the Petition in Support

Read our public statement, here.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Correspondence with Howard Davies

Howard Davies today repsonded to the letter sent from the LSE Occupation. Further to this correspondence Howard Davies has agreed to a meeting with members of the occupation tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

Please see below for all correspondence between the occupation and Howard Davies thus far:

The original letter sent to Howard Davies is as follows:

3 December 2010

1. Joint open statement by the LSE Students' Union, University and College Union (UCU), and Howard Davies (Director of the LSE) against the cuts, fees, and the attack on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

2. No victimisation of Students or Lecturers involved in the occupation or any protests against the cuts.

Public Statement from the Occupiers of the Vera Anstey Suite, London School of Economics:

We, the occupiers of the Vera Anstey Suite, have been dismayed by the Directorate of the LSE’s failure to speak out against the coalition’s proposals to cut funding for further and higher education and raise tuition fees. We believe that this inaction is betraying both LSE’s staff and students and the founders of the school, who were committed to the pursuit of knowledge and to making this pursuit universally accessible. As the school’s own website states, the founders envisioned an institution dedicated to the betterment of society through the creation of social equality. The LSE prides – and promotes – itself on a history of progressive engagement with social policy. As Ralf Dahrendorf, former director of the school, describes in his history of LSE, “One of the distinguishing marks of LSE was (…) that it never remained silent.” (1995: viii). Yet in the current debate surrounding the future of higher education in this country, the silence from LSE has been deafening.

The proposed cuts to education and increase in tuition fees will make education less accessible. Education should be universally available by right and not according to privilege. We believe that its core aim should be to enable the critical, creative and independent thinking that is essential for any healthy democracy. Since the mid-1980s we have witnessed a marketisation of higher education that has steadily taken us away from this conception of education. We believe that commodification privileges an assessment of disciplines on the basis of profitability and students on the basis of employability. As members of a social sciences institution we are particularly outraged that these cuts aggressively discriminate against the arts, humanities and social sciences, showing an unacceptable disregard for these disciplines’ immense contribution to society. We strongly oppose this ideological attack on education, which is part of a wider assault on our public services and all those who use them and work in them.

It has been claimed that our opposition is based on a misapprehension of what these reforms mean. We reject this patronising claim. David Cameron and Nick Clegg argue that by not paying fees up front, education will become more accessible to people from low- and middle-income backgrounds. But by cutting the teaching budget and transferring financial responsibility onto the shoulders of individuals, the coalition’s proposals will gravely constrain opportunities and lock graduates into a life of debt. As many school and college students have already made clear, this acts as a disincentive to pursuing higher education. Far from promoting social mobility, the proposals will further entrench existing patterns of exclusion, particularly across lines of class, gender and ethnicity. We urge MPs of all parties, hundreds of whom signed personal pledges to vote against any rise in tuition fees, to oppose these regressive proposals.

We have been galvanised by the many messages of support that we have received from individuals and students’ collectives, trade unions and other groups across the world. We stand in solidarity with all those who are facing attacks on their capacity to realise lives of dignity, fulfillment and possibility. We reject the claim that cuts are inevitable. We urge everyone: workers and the unemployed, young people and the elderly, to stand with students and fight against these cuts. We demand the right to create alternative futures.

Howard Davies' response (receved Tuesday 7th December) is viewable in a PDF here-

In turn we responded with this letter later the same day:

Dear Howard,

Thank you for your response to the occupation’s demands.

Although we recognise and are thankful for the efforts that you have already made to make the case for funding social sciences, we do not agree that they are forceful enough.

Nor do we agree that they are extensive enough; our demands clearly include the proposed fee hike and the education cuts beyond the loss of our teaching grant. Saying this, we believe that there is more common ground between us than you have recognised. This occupation’s demands are about national issues, and therefore the Freeze the Fees policy is not an obstacle to our working together.

It is clear that the private letters and your appearances on news programmes have not made a strong enough impact. We welcome your offer to make the private letters public, but do not believe that this would constitute ‘doing your all’ to prevent these cuts and the fee hike. The value of a joint public statement is clear: it would send an extremely strong message to the coalition government that this institution, its students and its academics are collectively uniting in order to protect our public education system.

The stance of the School at this point is critical; we have seen pressure building all across the country, from school students walking out, to universities forcefully speaking out against the government’s proposals for Higher Education. LSE’s coordinated and collective voice is currently absent from this movement.

We have attempted to engage with you over this extraordinarily important issue and you call for collaboration in your recent student email. It is therefore disappointing to be told through your statement and in person on Houghton St that you do not see this as an opportunity to stand up in unity with students and academics for LSE’s progressive ideals. To borrow a phrase from your statement, we find it ‘inconvenient’ to have a director who is not courageous enough to represent the body and values of our university. UCU has now been in contact with you, and have voiced clear support for our “reasonable” demands. The motion that mandates the Students’ Union to support the current occupation saw more votes cast for a motion than any other motion in at least the past decade. In light of this, by continuing to refuse to work with us, you risk losing the confidence of large sections of our university body.

However, we have to work with what we’ve got, so we request a meeting with you this evening to discuss this issue further, and should collaboration not be forthcoming, we will be left with no option but to escalate our tactics.

Your Sincerely,

LSE Occupation

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