Open Birkbeck is an ongoing event in which students, staff and faculty from Birkbeck College create an open space for discussion and deliberation on how we can participate in a society committed to Higher Education for all. In the first manifestation of this event, and in the spirit of the founding principles of Birkbeck College, Open Birkbeck reclaimed the Council Room for a period of 24 hours from December 8 to December 9 2010. During this first event, participants in Open Birkbeck agreed on a series of principles and demands, which we feel address many of the major problems both within Birkbeck and in the country as a whole. These principles and demands are subject to ongoing discussion and debate.
We are committed to the following principles:
◦ Free universal education funded by the state
◦ Recognition of the right to education
◦ Recognition of the value of universities beyond market value
◦ Equal value of the Arts and Sciences
◦ Funds for education and not war
Our demands to the government:
◦ No cuts to public services
◦ Maintain at least current levels of the Education Maintenance Allowance
◦ Reinstate ORS funding for international students
◦ Combat tax avoidance and tax the banks to pay the debt
◦ End the UK Border Agency’s policing and surveillance of international students and staff
◦ End the aggressive police targeting of protesters and abolish the practice of kettling
◦ Send Nick Clegg back to University
Our demands to Birkbeck College:
◦ The Master to revoke support for the Browne Review and join the 15 other vice-chancellors who have publicly opposed the cuts; otherwise we call for a vote of no-confidence regarding the Master’s failure to uphold and protect the founding mission of Birkbeck
◦ Board of Governors to issue a public statement against the cuts and use their power to lobby the government
◦ No fee increases
◦ No redundancies or real-term reductions in pay for any Birkbeck staff. No further outsourcing of jobs. All Birkbeck support services should be brought back in house
◦ A moratorium on pay rises for senior management and a cap on the pay of the Master
◦ Proper wages for sessional staff
◦ Protect full range of currently offered courses
◦ Refuse to comply with, and participate in, the Border Agency’s policing and surveillance of international students and staff, and end the non-consensual sharing of data with organs of the state.
◦ No victimisation of participants or supporters of Open Birkbeck and other protests. No police presence on campus.
We will continue to support the student and workers movements in Britain and around the world who protest austerity measures.