The University of Sussex has suspended all classes due to take place on Thursday due to a planned national demonstration on campus, it has been announced.
The move comes as a national demonstration in support of lecturers striking in the UCU industrial action is due to take place on Thursday afternoon. Almost 500 people have said they intend to go to the demonstration on Facebook.
In an email to all students, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Saul Becker said: “Although the scale of the demonstration will not be known until the day, we are anticipating and planning for large numbers of non-Sussex students, and other groups not associated with our University, to come to campus.
“Our primary responsibility is to our students and staff, and we must therefore plan for different eventualities as a result of the demonstration.”
Mr Becker also added that the cancellation of teaching will take place even if industrial action is called off, as it is expected the demonstration could still go ahead.
The University is working to reschedule student services, such as counselling services, that will be disrupted and has encouraged students to “consider whether they need to come into the central part of campus on that day.”
University-run catering services will also be closed, with the exception of Eat Central in Bramber House. In addition, University buildings are set to be locked and the Attenborough Centre will be closed, according to Students’ Union Activities Officer Lucy Williams. Ms Williams also confirmed that the Library would be open as normal on Thursday, despite the demonstration.
It is not yet known whether Falmer House and Students’ Union outlets will be open for business.
In a statement on Facebook, Students’ Union President Frida Gustafsson announced that deadlines for assessments due on Thursday have now been extended to Monday.
Mr Becker affirmed the University’s support of freedom of demonstration, saying: “The University respects the rights of students and individuals to take part in a peaceful protest [and] if the demonstration goes ahead, we hope that it will be done in such a way that other students, staff and visitors will be treated with respect.”
The news comes after university strikers rejected an agreement reached by union leaders and employers. As a result, strike action looks set to continue, with threats to disrupt exams and assessments in the summer term. The strike over university pensions has cancelled classes in more than 60 universities and has already lasted four weeks.
More to follow.