University spending investigated

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Protests against tuition fee increases in Oxford last term cost the University more than £12,000 for extra security and staff.

The greatest costs came from the occupation of the Radcliffe Camera library for two days at the end of November. Library staff were paid £5,100, £780 was needed for repairs and cleaning in the library and £3,800 of expected revenue from the shop and tours were lost due to the libraries’ closure.
The University Security Services spent £950 on staffing costs in response to the occupation, bringing the total cost of the protest to £9,680.

A further £1,850 was spent on security for other protests against fee increases and spending cuts in the weeks preceding the occupation.
OUSU President David Barclay suggested: “against the scale of the cuts twelve thousand pounds is not a huge amount.”
Executive Secretary of the Bodleian Libraries Michael Heaney said that the extra costs had been incurred as staff had to work “through the night” during the occupation. He commented that “staff had to be sent home early” as a result of the protests but still had to be paid.

When asked whether the spending on the protests was appropriate and effective, a spokesperson for the University said: “If a building is occupied then you have to staff something like that.” She stated: “If students occupy a library and do damage then it’s up to them to answer for it, not the University.”
Allegra FitzHerbert took part in the protest and was unrepentant: “They didn’t need to spend that money. They chose to spend that money rather than keep the library open, which was practically the first request on our statement.”

Students faced disruption due to the occupation. Third-year English students were offered an extension to the deadline on their coursework equalling the number of days the library remained closed. Joe Eyre, a finalist at Corpus Christi, said: “I left the library for a few hours, leaving all my work in there, and when I came back I couldn’t get in.” While Eyre described this as “an inconvenience”, he added “protests of this kind probably shouldn’t take place only so long as it is convenient for everyone not involved”.

The occupation took place on 24th and 25th November and both the Radcliffe Camera and the Old Library reopened on 26th November; a response Heaney described as “fairly quick”. A spokesperson for the University said that the protest had “ended peacefully”.

OUSU has agreed with the sentiment of the protest while not directly endorsing the occupation. President David Barclay said: “People clearly felt passionate about the debate, and OUSU supported that statement, even if it did not support the actions”.

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