Students set to occupy two University of Sheffield buildings for 10 days in protest

Students from the University of Sheffield have taken over two university buildings for up to 10 days in support of striking staff.

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) launched the largest wave of strike action in its history across the UK this week in response to pension cuts and 'deteriorating’ pay and working conditions.

The University of Sheffield' s UCU branch voted this month to strike on a number of issues, including the closure of the university’s archaeology department and the restructure of the languages department.

Low pay, workloads and inequality are also issues of concern.

The University of Sheffield's UCU branch voted this month to strike on three issues: the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) dispute, the union's 'Four Fights', the closure of the archaeology department, and the restructure of the Languages Department.

The university's world-renowned archaeology department is to close despite a campaign to save it.

More than 42,000 people signed a petition opposing the closure, but the university said it had taken the decision following a "significant decline" in the number of student applications, with only 10 students receiving offers for September.

On Monday, students walked into Jessop West, home of the Languages Department and threw banners out the window, declaring the 'Free State of Jessop West'.

The following day , they escalated their action and took over the Hicks Building, unfurling a banner asking, “Archaeology now, who next?”

Fiona said they are demanding that the University of Sheffield archaeology department is not closed, and they will not leave until the decision is reversed.

Students said they are staying in the premises for the duration of the strike, with one occupier explaining: "Staff learning conditions are student learning conditions. We support our striking staff because they are fighting for a better university for everyone and this disruption is a small price to pay.”

One of the organisers said students are occupying the buildings in solidarity with the UCU.

The buildings are now closed

In response to the occupation, University of Sheffield said they were working to 'minimise disruption'.

A university spokesperson said: “There are currently a small number of students occupying the Jessop West and Hicks buildings on the University of Sheffield campus.

“The buildings are closed, and all teaching and other activities scheduled to take place are being moved to alternative locations.

“Our priority is to minimise disruption and we have been communicating any changes directly to students and staff.

“We are in contact with the students who are occupying the buildings and we hope that the situation is resolved as soon as possible.”