Students barricade University of Manchester exam building

Home Education Students barricade University of Manchester exam building
Students barricade University of Manchester exam building

Gemma Sherlock,BBC News, Manchester

BBC Protesters at University of Manchester BBC

Protesters have partly taken over a University of Manchester exam building

Exams at a university have been disrupted after a group of protesters have “unlawfully barricaded” a university building.

The group, which includes students, occupied the University of Manchester’s (UoM) Whitworth building on Oxford Road on Monday in relation to the nearby Encampment of Resistance for Palestine.

A UoM spokesman said the group had refused a request to leave the complex over “significant health and safety risks” and that the university was now activating exam contingency plans.

The group is asking the university to promise “no disciplinary action” will be taken against student activists and to open up negotiations.

Manchester Leftist Action  Occupiers on the balcony of the Whitworth buildingManchester Leftist Action

Occupiers said they had secured the exam building

A statement from the occupiers said: “We have taken the Whitworth building to escalate our pressure on the university to end its ties with the genocide in Palestine.

“We have full control of this building which is due to hold hundreds of students for exams next week.

“We will not leave until the university commit to not disciplining any student protesters and enter negotiations on the other demands.”

Manchester Leftist Action  Police at University of Manchester campus Manchester Leftist Action

A number of police officers have been pictured at the campus

The Manchester group is calling on the university to end its partnership with BAE Systems, to cut ties with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to adopt a policy ensuring all research is ethical and does not contribute towards the arms trade, and to not pursue disciplinary action against students involved in the encampment.

The UoM has denied any involvement with the Israeli defence sector.

It added in a previous statement that it complied with “applicable national and international statutory and regulatory requirements and agreed frameworks for ethical standards for research conduct”.

Manchester Leftist Action Protesters outside the Whitworth buildingManchester Leftist Action

Protesters outside the Whitworth building

The Encampment of Resistance for Palestine in Manchester is just one of many protests to be held across Britain.

The nearby encampment has been ongoing for more than 25 days, and has gathered more than 500 students and community members from across Manchester, occupiers said.

A UoM spokesman said: “Over the weekend, a group of students from our University gained unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex.

“Various entrances and access points have been unlawfully barricaded, and occupiers have broken onto a balcony, which poses significant health and safety risks to the occupiers and others.”

The UoM said it was now activating their exam contingency plans, but said the university was “deeply disappointed” over the groups actions which were “directly impacting on what is already, for all those undertaking assessments at present, one of the most intense periods in the academic year”.

Manchester Leftist Action  Inside the Whitworth building Manchester Leftist Action

Occupiers claim they have barricaded themselves in

A UoM spokesman said: “The university firmly supports students’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful protest. These are fundamental rights that allow for a healthy exchange of ideas.

“However, deliberately disrupting exams clearly violates the standards of behaviour and conduct from students, as outlined in our Student Charter and student disciplinary regulations.”

Students scheduled to take an exam in the Whitworth Hall are being advised to go to the ground floor of University Place at least 20 minutes before their exam – where marshals will be present to direct students to a new exam location.

Greater Manchester Police has been approached for comment.

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