Socialist Worker

Students win compensation after watchdog probes victimisation at Sussex University

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2437

Lewis speaking at a protest during the campaign to reinstate the Sussex Five

Lewis speaking at a protest during the campaign to reinstate the Sussex Five (Pic: Antony Hamilton)

Four student activists from Sussex University have been vindicated after university management agreed to compensate them for their victimisation.

Five students – the Sussex Five – were suspended after taking part in an occupation in support of workers striking against privatisation in 2013.

Management launched disciplinary procedures against them and banned them from campus.

They said the students were “ringleaders” and accused them of “disruptive and intimidating behaviour”.

But after a successful defence campaign, the five were reinstated and proceedings dropped.

Supporters of the Sussex Five had organised huge protests on campus and launched a petition which was signed by as many as 10,000 people.

A freedom of information request revealed that university bosses spent more than £55,000 on legal costs throughout the case.

Now management are set to pay out around £10,000 in compensation to four of the students.

The payout follows a ruling by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

The OIA said the university had “not followed fair procedure” when it suspended the five students.

University vice chancellor Michael Farthing had dissolved the original appeals panel in favour of a different procedure.

The OIA suspected that this was done to prevent the students from being legally represented.

Lewis Nielsen, one of the Sussex Five, told Socialist Worker, “The verdict shows how universities are being run like businesses rather than in the interests of education, and are simply seen as places to continue the privatisation of the public sector.”

“But it’s also a victory for a campaign that united students and workers. It’s a sign that students should continue the fight.”

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Thu 22 Jan 2015, 13:27 GMT
Issue No. 2437
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