Socialist Worker

Middlesex philosophy students occupy to defy cuts

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2201

Students occupying to save the philosophy department at Middlesex university

Students occupying to save the philosophy department at Middlesex university

Middlesex university students have occupied against management plans to slash their philosophy department.

The cuts are part of a strategy of “rationalisation” across higher education.

But the students at Middlesex decided to resist.

The occupied building has colourful banners hanging from the windows, their corners weighed down with textbooks.

Inside, Karl Marx’s Early Writings sits alongside the food and other supplies that are sustaining the occupation.

A banner reads “Free thinking not fee thinking.”

Sonny Patel represents international students in the university’s student union.

He told Socialist Worker, “This is a priority for the students and we have to stand by them.”

Johann Hoiby is a second year philosophy student from Norway.

To study in Britain he must pay three times more in fees than “home students”.

He said, “If you don’t have a direct ‘use value’ then the university isn’t interested. Education shouldn’t be about that.”

Many of the students believe that the cuts have been planned for a long time.

Last year undergraduate numbers were capped—those figures are now being used by management to claim that the courses are not popular.

But the philosophy department does exceptionally well in league tables for both undergraduate and post‑graduate courses.

Philosophers Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou have added pressure on management, supporting the occupation and condemning plans for the department’s closure.

Over 13,000 people have signed a petition calling for a halt to the plans.

Maria Louise Rosbech said, “It feels like these kinds of cuts are happening more and more.

“We’re here to tell management they can’t just throw our futures away.”

Sonny added, “These cuts are part of the system’s crisis—they say there are no jobs because of the recession.

“Our fight is a national one, and not just within education.”

Sign the petition at »

For more information go to »

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.