GU president Darshana Joshi, CUSU president Daisy Eyre and CUSU education officer Martha Krish visit occupiers

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Report: Occupation declared ‘a success’ as activists emerge to join rally

Anna Menin and Noella Chye write:
The five-day occupation of Old Schools has ended after activists emerged to join a mass rally on King’s Parade this afternoon, declaring their occupation “a success”, ahead of an open meeting with vice-chancellor Stephen Toope at 2pm.

Around 150 people gathered in the midday sun, banging pots and pans as CUSU Education Officer Martha Krish began the rally by leading chants of “Whose University? Our University”.

The Cambridge Defend Education activists who have been occupying Old Schools for five days could be first heard from Senate House Passage as they marched out of the Old Schools back entrance, chanting and bearing a large Cambridge Defend Education banner, to join the rally at around 12:20pm. The assembled crowd clapped and cheered loudly.

Read the full report here.

12:56pm After a last rendition of "solidarity forever", students begin to disperse. 

Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope will be attending an open meeting with students at 2pm today in Great St. Mary's Church.

Follow along with the Varsity text live blog of the meeting's events on our website, or with a live video broadcast on our Facebook page. 

12:45pm According to Anne Alexander, a member of the Cambridge UCU strike committee speaking at the rally, over 1,000 people have attended teach-outs in Cambridge over the course of the industrial action.

12:43pm The speeches focus a great deal on postgraduate students' employment: Cambridge PhD student Rox Middleton argues, "grads are told that the free teaching they provide is actually training". 

Middleton continues, "we are the frontline of increasing precarity in Higher Education". 

12:37pm Cambridge UCU Secretary Dr. Waseem Yaqoob praises student and staff solidarity: "We have achieved a huge amount and we're going to go on to achieve more next term.

"We've got 14 days of strike action timetabled for next term", says Yaqoob, adding that "our industrial action is not suspended. It is not even paused.

"This crisis is not of our own making". 

12:31pm CUSU president Daisy Eyre is speaking to students at the rally, describing the strikes as a "historic moment" which has "galvanised so much passion". 

Eyre adds, "it's frustrating to end this strike with no firm resolution but it's clear to me that the strikes and the occupation have been hugely successful.

"Cambridge is at a crisis point". 

12:29pm Though the statement by student occupiers labels the occupation "a success", they continue: "Now the long-term fight begins". 

12:27pm "Today, the occupation ends", say the student occupiers in a collective statement. "Toope, see you at 2", they add.

12:22pm CDE occupiers are now leading the rally.

A small group of gradate students who are on strike for fair pensions have joined those gathered, bringing tambourines and other instruments. 

12:20pm CDE occupiers have just emerged from Old Schools, and are greeted to loud cheers as they join the rally.

CUSU women's officer Lola Olufemi and CUSU president Daisy are leading students in chants.

12:15pm Students have now gathered for a rally outside of Senate House, prior to the open meeting with vice-chancellor Stephen Toope at 2pm today. 

The students' chants include: "Power to the strikers" and "Toope, can you hear us?"

11:00am A poster, using the hashtag #ToopeAssembly, calling for students to attend the open meeting today. The poster shows vice-chancellor Stephen Toope, and senior pro-vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell. Maskell was among the group who visited the occupants on Monday night.

10:52am Pickets lines are continuing as usual today, with all striking groups planning to converge towards Great St Mary’s in time for the 12pm rally. Today is the last of fourteen days of direct action by staff and academics across the UK.

Report: Toope attacks ‘fundamental error’ of university marketisation

Louis Ashworth writes:
Stephen Toope, Cambridge’s vice-chancellor, sided with CUSU today in arguing current strikes and demonstrations – including the ongoing occupation of a central University building – are the product of universities acting like businesses.

In Toope’s intervention, made in a letter to The Times, he wrote that he shared the concerns of Daisy Eyre, CUSU’s president, that current actions are “about the future of higher education, continued marketisation and the move towards students as consumers”.

Full article here.

9:14am, Friday – Today marks the fifth day of the occupation, and the last day of industrial strike action until the UCU's 14 days of further action planned for later this year, during the exam period. 

At 12pm this afternoon, occupiers will join a mass rally starting outside the Old Schools back entrance to "celebrate [their] victories". 

Later, at 2pm, many will gather in Great St. Mary's for a highly-anticipated open meeting with vice-chancellor Stephen Toope, where he will discuss the University's response to the strikes, as well as issues such as decolonisation, divestment, Prevent, housing justice and reform of the disciplinary procedure. 

4:19pm Saying “Cambridge has traded away our well-being and dignity in its relentless pursuit of profit”, campaign group Cambridge Defend Education, which is leading the occupation, has called for a ‘mass rally’ outside Great St. Mary’s tomorrow at 12:30 – ahead of Stephen Toope’s meeting with students inside the church.

Report: Vice-chancellor Toope to attend open meeting on strikes

Jack Conway writes:
Vice-chancellor Toope has agreed to attend an open meeting to discuss the ongoing pension strike and the University’s response to it. The meeting, which will be held 2 pm tomorrow at Great St Mary’s Church, is another victory for activists currently occupying Old Schools, the central offices of the University.

Read the full report here.

3:04pm Occupiers have announced a series of teach-outs for this afternoon, with one on the history of radicalism and activism in Britain, another on the effects of mass riots on urban planning under Thatcher's government, and, later, a talk on the first Old Schools occupation in 2010. 

A 'radical' party is scheduled for 9pm, just like yesterday's, following a meditation session. 

2:39pm Over 21 universities currently under occupation

As the occupation at Old Schools continues, it’s worth noting that Cambridge is not alone: 21 universities are currently experiencing some kind of occupation, according to Occupation Hub. The actions range from whole-building takeovers to students blocking corridors in their university’s administrative buildings.

1:05pm Occupiers began the third day of the occupation with breakfast food from members of the Cambridge UCU.

Following Toope's announcement last night that he has agreed to meet occupiers' demands, the Cambridge UCU said in an email to strike supporters that the open meeting requested will take place on Friday, and is likely to be at 2pm in Great St. Mary's because of the large number of expected attendees.

Picketers outside Senate House have now been joined by students at a march for divestment organised by the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society.

10:14pm Toope agreed earlier today to meet the occupiers' demands, and has promised to attend an open meeting as well as to stop pay deductions for staff who refuse to reschedule cancelled teaching - called a major victory by the occupying students in a statement to Varsity.

Varsity is signing off the night, and so are most of the occupiers - who are now mingling to a disco and funk soundtrack.

7:43pm Varsity is now attending a 'Climate Justice and Activism' workshop, organised by the Zero Carbon Society. Those present explained why climate justice mattered to them, and have broken into groups to discuss their beliefs in greater detail. They discussed the interconnected nature of different causes of climate injustice.

7:37pm Varsity just now attended a teach-out involving Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). They discussed the hit 2014 film Pride, screened at the occupation last night, which centred on a group of LGBT activists in the 1980s who lent their support to striking Welsh miners.

The discussion touched on how the miners' strike was weakened by a freeze in the NUM's assets that prevented strike pay, which made support groups across universities more important. They added that they view the strike as so important because this is the "first time rank and file union workers have thrown out a shoddy deal in the first time i can remember."

The Q&A also touched on the historic shift towards greater inclusion of lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the sexual liberation movement, and the increasing commercialisation of Pride events.

5:50pm Reporting from inside the occupation, Varsity spoke to several students who wished to remain anonymous. These students spoke in a personal capacity, and not as spokespeople for the occupiers.

One student described an "amazing" atmosphere with a "real sense of solidarity," and added that while there is "a clear consensus, inevitably different opinions get voiced, but the important thing is that they do get voiced."

Another student said they "admire the commitment of everyone who's been here," and while the atmosphere "is not hierarchical, everyone's helped fill out the schedule" - with organisation of the occupation being run by rota. They praised the efforts involved in "taking care of the building to make it presentable for teach-outs," and described the teach-outs as "collaborative" and a "change of style" compared to "normal lectures."

4:19pm One student, when asked what makes a good facilitator, said: "Listening to the room and being a radio receptor," as well as being able to steer the conversation to keep it on track, and sometimes be assertive.

4:15pm The workshop leaders are emphasising the usefulness of hand signals to silently show support or dissent. They have introduced a repertoire of silent signals which students may use throughout the discussion, such as: 'point of agreement', 'technical point', 'process point', 'proposal', and 'clarification'. 

The facilitators also gauged the "energy levels" in the room with hand signals. 

3:52pm Varsity reporters are now at a facilitation skills workshop, with activists from the 2010/11 occupation teaching a group of around 20 occupiers on student activism and organisation.

Their ice-breaker involves a broad discussion of 'what makes a good meeting'. Some students point to the importance of nuance, and others stress respecting others when they are speaking.

2:49pm Varsity is now reporting live, inside Old Schools with the student occupiers. We're currently at the teach-out entitled, "Women and Anti-Colonial Struggle in Rojava & Solidarity with Afrin".

Wednesday – 2:36pm The occupation of Old Schools continues, after a visit from CUSU president Daisy Eyre and education officer Martha Krish and GU president Darshana Joshi earlier today.

Occupiers have also invited students to a series of events hosted in the occupied space, including teach-outs, skill-sharing groups, and a social in the evening.

The first teach-out, titled "Women and Anti-Colonial Struggle in Rojava & Solidarity with Afrin", follows this morning's Afrin solidarity direct action in front of the Department of Engineering, in protest of the department's involvement in the UK arms industry.

8:46pm The occupiers have re-issued their demands via the Cambridge Defend Education Facebook page, meaning students will most likely be staying inside Old Schools for at least another night.

The new statement, which can also be read here, says:

“Following the decision of the UCU's Higher Education Committee to reject UUK's deal following mass pressure from members; we have reissued our demands to University of Cambridge management. We demand of VC Stephen Toope:

1) Following the rejection of UUK’s proposed offer by UCU branches and its Higher Education Committee, we call on Vice Chancellor Toope to actively lobby UUK for: no cuts to staff pension benefits; the immediate release of the controversial valuation methodology used by USS; and that staff are not coerced into rescheduling cancelled lectures through threats of pay cuts.

We hold management and their handling of this dispute exclusively responsible for the disruption to our education; not UCU members.

2) In line with Toope’s promise to be open and transparent, to hold an open meeting with students and staff to discuss the handling of the pension scheme, and further issues of institutional accountability and democracy. This should include transparency around the university's investments, especially relating to staff pensions.

3) Immediately grant free access to the occupation, and no disciplinary consequences for students or staff for participation in or support for the occupation, regardless of its duration.”

Report: UCU rejects pensions dispute resolution following nationwide backlash

Noella Chye and Rosie Bradbury write:

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has withdrawn from a compromise reached with Universities UK (UUK) yesterday afternoon, calling for strike action to continue for the rest of this week and a further 14 days during the exam period, following backlash from UCU members nationwide.

The decision follows widespread discontent with the proposal agreed upon from various branches of the UCU, including that of Cambridge. Representatives from UCU branches across the country met in London today at 11am to convey members’ responses to the proposals to the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Read the full report here.

4:36pm Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) have released a new image from within the Syndicate Room in Old Schools, showing over 40 occupiers.

4:02pm BREAKING: UCU has just rejected the agreement reached yesterday with Universities UK. The union has called for strike action – and action short of a strike – to continue as scheduled, and has announced that it will make "detailed preparations" for strikes during examination periods.  

The announcement follows a meeting of the UCU Higher Education Committee with union branch representatives today, including Cambridge UCU vice-president Sam James.

Report: Old Schools occupation grows during emergency rally

Stephi Stacey and Jack Conway write:

Over a hundred people gathered for an emergency rally outside Senate House this afternoon in support of the ongoing occupation of Old Schools and the recent industrial action. Some activists were witnessed climbing through windows facing King’s Chapel in order to join the occupiers, while supporters outside chanted and banged on pots, pans and drums in support.

Read the full report here.

3:08pm There are unconfirmed reports that the UCU has rejected the UUK's proposed agreement, meaning it is possible that more strikes could be planned for next term. 

2:57pm Dr Priyamvada Gopal has announced that she is withdrawing from working at the Cambridge UCU, though she will remain a member of the union.

2:36pm Occupiers have now posted a list of ground rules for those at the occupation, including a 'time-out' signal to stop conversation, and scheduled quiet time. They emphasised that those who wished to leave could do so at any time, and would "NOT BE SHAMED".

Some students who climbed through the windows of Old Schools at the rally have joined the occupation. Upon entering, they were cautioned that occupiers have some supplies, but that they are limited. Another student reminded them that they should they choose to join, they could leave at any time. 

2:15pm Dr Priyamvada Gopal has tweeted about what she calls "a very bad mansplaining patriarchal sexism problem" in the Cambridge UCU. 

She references one speaker's comments today at the emergency meeting, which noted how the strikes have shown Waseem Yaqoob and Sam James to be "stars".

2:12pm More footage of the student protests; this from around 1:30pm.

1:49pm More footage, from the student rally about twenty minutes ago, showing CUSU education officer Martha Krish leading protestors

1:30pm Krish thanked everyone for coming and urged them to support the strikes, which she hopes will not end yet. Students have now dispersed.

1:27pm "What do we want? Fair pensions. When do we want them? Now!" is shouted by students and staff now gathered outside the Old Schools backdoor again.

1:26pm Students are now chanting "Whose university? Our university!" Outside the Old Schools. 

1:23pm  Demonstrators are now leaving King's as they continue chanting.

1:20pm Jeff Miley tells us that the occupation is about "taking back the University". He told Varsity that morale among occupying students remains "excellent". He said that this occupation is even bigger and more enthusiastic than the one in 2010.

Report: Cambridge staff reject agreement between national bodies

Rosie Bradbury and Noella Chye write:
The Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU) passed a motion this morning to reject the agreement put forth by national negotiating bodies, which brought the national pensions dispute and ongoing strike action closer to a resolution than ever before.

At an emergency meeting at Great St Mary’s church morning, academics debated whether to accept a national agreement reached yesterday between UCU and Universities UK (UUK) during reconciliation talks. If accepted, the agreement could bring about an end to strikes tomorrow.

A full report can be read here.

1:19pm Those gathered now sing "Solidarity forever". Jeff Miley, sociology lecturer and active UCU member, has just climbed out of the window.

1:16pm The chants are now being led from within Old Schools. Both inside and outside, students chant and clap. People have shaken hands with activists within the building, while some have joined them.

1:13pm More activists continue to climb through the windows to join occupiers.

1:11pm From within King's College, students are in contact with the occupiers in Old Schools who can be seen through windows. People are climbing through the windows.

1:11pm Occupiers are outside the building, though still within the Old Schools court, singing, “Power to the people!”

1:09pm People are now moving from the Old Schools back door into King's College.

1:07pm Someone is banging on the wall of Old Schools with a wooden stick, while people chant "students and workers, unite and fight".

1:04pm The rally is getting increasingly loud, with people clapping, banging on pans, and chanting "let us in" from right by the door.

1:02pm Students and staff now chant "This is what democracy looks like".

1:00pm A student declares: "The occupiers insist that University authorities grant immediate open access to the Old Schools occupation." 

Protesters chant "Let us in!"

12:58pm Food and blankets are being passed through the door, which security has opened temporarily, to those occupying Old Schools inside the courtyard amidst raucous cheers.

12:56pm Some of the occupiers have moved outside of the building they were occupying and are now chanting along with the rally from within the Old Schools courtyard. Meanwhile, others can be seen standing by windows on the second floor.

12:54pm Chants continue at the back of Old Schools, where security are blocking the door.

12:51pm Some attendees have brought signs and banners, including one which reads "U UK hun?" Protestors are now marching round to the back of Old Schools.

12:48pm It appears that over 100 people have gathered to join the rally and support the occupation. Attendees include CUSU president-elect Evie Aspinall, and several members of the current CUSU sabbatical team.

12:42pm A speaker references the recent UCU and UUK agreement, and the crowd boos. He describes the deal as "a complete slap in the face."

12:40pm CUSU has released a statement on the student occupation, saying that it "stands in solidarity with those currently occupying and echoes the demands of UCU". 

It continues: "We call on the University of Cambridge to ensure that there are no repercussions of any kind for the students occupying and in the interim, to allow free and open access to the occupiers."

12:39pm Students and staff are rallying outside Old Schools, shouting chants such as "Strike up your life" and "Whose university? Our university". Some are hitting pans and drums.

11:43am Alexander has called for the crowd to disperse and return at 12:30pm for a rally outside Senate House. Full report coming soon.

11:39am Occupiers are singing out the window of the building inside Old Schools, while those gathered outside its gates sing back.

11:26am Anne Alexander has received a note from security inside asking her to direct her requests to the press office, who has told her they will pass the message on to the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellors.

11:19am CUSU education officer Martha Krish is at the scene and on the phone to pro-vice-chancellor for education Graham Virgo. Those gathered are chanting for Virgo to hear them over the phone.

11:18am Pictured: the crowd of around 50 UCU members who have gathered to demand free access to Old Schools.

11:12am UCU members are now crowded around the back entrance of the Old Schools. Anne Alexander is attempting to ask security guards gathered for free access to the building and reiterate the union’s demands for no repercussions for occupying students.

11:05am Here’s our own photo from inside the church. Cambridge UCU claims this is its biggest branch meeting ever, superseding one late last month.

11:02am The scene inside Great St Mary’s church by history academic Dr Nicholas Guyatt, taken before the vote.

10:54am The votes are in: most of the room votes in favour of the unamended resolutions, with just a handful of hands raised in favour of accepting the UCU-UUK agreement.

10:54am Members firstly vote on Dr. Yaqoob's amendment: though it is a very tight vote, the amendment fails to pass.

10:47am  Tensions have visibly risen. One member of the audience shouts at those speaking against accepting the agreement, "Let us talk!"

10:46am One member argues the "opposite position" of accepting the national agreement, saying: "we have public opinion to deal with". He cautions against members becoming "hotheads". 

Dr. Priyamvada Gopal interrupts, voicing her dissent: "Oh, come on". She then calls the speaker's argument "patriarchal bullshit". 

10:45am Dr Priyamvada Gopal addresses the crowd. She speaks of when she left the union, but re-joined because of the "anger and determination" she saw.

She adds: "This is a union [which] has been more than moderate on our behalves", and references instances in 2006 and 2015 when they "weakened our actions".

She stresses the importance of voting now "to break the relentless cycle of degeneration", and adds: "They will come back in three years' time, they will come back for defined benefit, and when they come back, they will come back for other things as well", including "freedom of speech on campuses.

"So I think it is vital, utterly vital, to not give in to the temptation to give in now."

Too hot to Handel: Acis and Galatea moved due to ongoing action

A production of Acis and Galatea, due to be held in Senate House tonight, has been moved to West Road Concert Hall. 

In an email, its organisers said:

“Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, the Senate House has suddenly become unavailable as a venue.  Luckily, however, West Road Concert Hall is available, and will now be hosting this event, which will continue as planned.  To allow anyone who goes to the Senate House extra time to arrive, it will now begin at 8.15pm.

“We hope you will join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening of music.”

Tickets, for which prices vary, can be purchased from, via 01223 300085 or at the door. 

10:40am Dr. Anne Alexander, a member of the Cambridge UCU strike committee, opposes Dr. Yaqoob's proposed amendment — she argues that the resolution should be passed as a "strongest possible indication of the strength and feeling in this room".

10:40am Dr. Waseem Yaqoob has proposed an amendment to the motion, which will see Cambridge UCU members accept the national agreement only on the condition that the inflation cap is removed, and if the threat of pay docking if members refuse to reschedule lectures is removed.

10:36am Clement Mouhot, a member of the Cambridge UCU strike committee, calls the deal "insulting". He calls on picketers: "Let us stop being afraid for one second, and let us discuss a real answer to a practical question, which is: do we want this deal being voted on in less than an hour?"

10:31am One member speaks up in favour of accepting the agreement: "If we reject the national proposal, the danger is that the earlier proposal gets legally proposed on us this summer. The risk is whether we will ever get back any defined benefit. If we vote to reject and if nationally, UCU votes to reject over all, that is the risk we are taking."

Speaking about the three-year interim period proposed in the agreement, he adds: this "certainly means that in three years we will be striking again, but we've shown that we can do that."

10:25am Cambridge UCU Branch Secretary Dr. Waseem Yaqoob says that the branch has asked members to email in their views: 10 wish to accept the national agreement, 2 wish to accept the agreement but refuse rescheduling of teaching, and 30 reject the agreement.

Dr. Yaqoob also notes that an open letter circulated to Cambridge UCU members rejecting the agreement currently has 65 signatures.

10:23am Anne Alexander urges those in the chamber to vote for the motions.

She comments on the levels of student solidarity, referencing CUSU leaders and the hundreds of other students who have pledged solidarity. She describes a shared agenda where "we can work together to defend higher education from marketisation and cuts.

"That's what this strike holds up the prospect of."

Another union member echoes Alexander's encouragement to vote for the motion, calling the agreement "watered down". She adds: "This is not the time for turning back."

10:21am Cambridge UCU branch secretary Dr. Waseem Yaqoob says that the national agreement "represents a step forward", but argues that "we can win much more." He emphasises the scale of strike action "never seen before in the higher education sector".

Dr. Yaqoob continues, saying that the agreement regarding defined benefits for a "transition period" "risks strike in three years", and that encouraging UCU members to reschedule leads to "potential victimisation by employers" of staff. 

10:17am Before reading out the branch's resolutions, Yaqoob says he is “very grateful for the solidarity of our students, who have gone into occupation" and "shown us remarkable levels of solidarity and support". The chamber erupts with applause.

Yaqoob urges those gathered to sign the open letter demanding no victimisation of the occupiers and free access to the building.

10:09am UCU branch secretary Waseem Yaqoob steps forward to address the crowd, and remarks that this is the largest branch meeting the union has ever had.

The goal of today's meeting is to arrange an indicative vote ahead of the national HEC meeting regarding yesterday's UCU-UUK agreement. It is not a formal meeting, which requires two days' prior notice.

10:08am Cambridge UCU member Dr. Anne Alexander has proposed a resolution that has been distributed to members attending the emergency meeting right now in Great St. Mary's Church.

The resolution calls for Cambridge UCU members to reject the national proposed agreement reached yesterday, to vote in favour of continued strike action, and to communicate their decision to UCU's Higher Education Committee.

10:04am The main chamber of Great St. Mary's is almost filled with around 150 Cambridge UCU members gathering for an emergency meeting, and still others pouring in.

9:05am Students on a CDE-organised breakfast run are playing 'Fight the Power' by Public Enemy as they hand out coffee and biscuits to picketers. The song was already the musical accompaniment to some dabbing dons over the past weekend.

8:27am Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope has walked past picketers outside Senate House, exchanging brief but courteous 'good morning' greetings before entering Old Schools. 

8:13am Cambridge UCU vice-president Dr. Sam James will be attending a national UCU meeting at 11am today as a representative for the branch, to discuss the national proposal currently on the table.

7:50am We’re back at the Old Schools, where students have occcupied the Syndicate Room overnight, since around 5pm yesterday.

Picketers have just arrived at the back entrance, where all picket lines today have been diverted before staff gather for an emergency meeting at Great St. Mary’s at 10am.

1:36am Some pictures from last night gathered together. Students could be seen via small holes in the main gates of Old Schools, which security staff made light-hearted attempts to cover with post-it notes. Photos by Louis Ashworth

1:32am An open letter from members of the Cambridge UCU calling for the University to ensure that occupiers do not face disciplinary consequences, regardless of the occupation's duration, has been circulated and garnered almost 40 signatures.

Signatories also support the occupiers' requests for free access to and from the occupied space.

12:29am Occupiers have received a statement from the University responding to their demands – the University has agreed to have an open meeting with staff, students and the vice-chancellor, and will not pursue disciplinary measures to students or staff involved with the occupation, provided that it ends tonight, without damage or further disruption.

Occupiers have responded through a Facebook post listing criteria for the open meeting, in which they aim to discuss issues such as decolonisation, divestment and the Prevent duty. They have asked for the meeting to take place at a large, accessible, un-ticketed, venue between 7.30 - 9.00pm, with two chairpersons provided by UCU and CUSU, vice-chancellor Stephen Toope and pro-vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell answering questions from staff and students, and free access for student journalists.

They rejected the University's offer to meet their third demand on the grounds that it is contingent on them leaving within a certain time frame. Instead, they write, "We will leave when we have satisfactory responses to our stated demands."

10:33pm Priyamvada Gopal, English lecturer and outspoken supporter of the UCU industrial action, and Jeff Miley, Sociology lecturer and senior Cambridge UCU member, are among over 4,000 UCU members to have signed an open letter rejecting the UCU and UUK agreement reached during recent negotiations.

10:00pm Cambridge UCU have called an emergency meeting of branch members at 10 AM tomorrow at Great St. Mary's, after earlier suggesting on Twitter that the deal proposals are "derisory".

Many Cambridge academics have signed a statement declaring "disappointment and frustration at the proposed agreement between UCU and UUK":

"Faced with an increase in member contributions, no guarantees about the future of our pensions after the three year ‘transitional benefit arrangement’, and an absurd commitment to reschedule lost teaching, we reject the proposed agreement and urge other Cambridge branch members to do the same."

9:52pm Students plan to remain occupying the building all night prior to a rally beginning tomorrow at 12:30 on King's Parade. 

9:34pm The gates to Old Schools just opened, and two cars went out.

9:25pm Waseem Yaqoob and Sam James say that they "support the students" currently occupying Old Schools, and are "grateful for their solidarity."

9:23pm Security guards are being given apples and bananas. 

9:20pm Asked about the ongoing occupation, Cambridge UCU branch secretary Waseem Yaqoob and vice president Sam James said "we've got a national agreement to think about" but noted that they will "be asking the university for no victimisation of any of the students involved." They said that they "obviously approve of the demands made" though noted that these have been "somewhat superseded by the national picture."

8:58pm Dr Martin Vinnell from the University health and safety department has arrived and has been permitted to enter the building, claiming that the occupiers have locked fire doors, and that he plans to ensure students have adequate supplies of water and food.

8:49pm All quiet for now. Negotiations appear to be ongoing inside Old Schools. Occupiers, UCU senior staff, and senior University staff are all inside.

8:30pm Almost all students and staff outside have now left, though the occupation continues. There now appear to be approximately as many security guards standing on the inside of the gate as there are protesters outside.

8:18pm A porter from an unknown college called for an end to chanting, saying there is a concert going on nearby. His request was met by boos, though chants have now ended.

8:17pm People appear to have dispersed slightly. Groups remain, but no chants continue. 

8:12pm Apparently, management agreed to allow Cambridge UCU branch secretary Dr. Waseem Yaqoob and Dr Sam James, Cambridge UCU vice president, to enter Old Schools.

8:10pm A group of people, including Professor Duncan Maskell, senior pro-vice-chancellor, and Paul Mylrea, director of communications, are gathering on the inside of the door of Old Schools.

8:09pm Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope today announced a move towards higher University contributions to support the existing Defined Benefit pensions scheme, which staff are striking to maintain. Read more here.

8:03pm Someone is now beating a metal pot amid continued chanting of "students and workers, unite and fight" and banging on the doors.

7:58pm Students and staff stand outside chanting "let us in".

7:50pm Cambridge Defend Education has posted on Facebook, saying: "students inside the occupation have stated that they will not meet with the pro vice chancellor unless UCU members are granted access to the occupation which is currently under siege from security". 

At least three security personnel are in Old Schools courtyard, though it is unclear how many are inside. The University has said that no attempt has been made to remove individuals from the building.

7:46pm English lecturer and Churchill College fellow, Priyamvada Gopal, has arrived at the scene to join staff and students in solidarity.

7:38pm Occupiers inside Old Schools are chanting through the back door "let them in", in reference to students and staff standing outside in solidarity. Those outside are chanting "let us in".

7:32pm CUSU women's officer, Lola Olufemi, and education officer, Martha Krish, have joined students outside the building in solidarity. Chants now include "solidarity forever".

7:31pm Asked about the strike action, Dr Jeff Miley said "People are fed up with a corporate takeover of this place, a university that is silent and complicit on all the urgent political and social problems of the day."

7:25pm Around 45 students outside Old Schools are chanting:

“Whose University? Our university”

“Students and workers, unite and fight”

"Cambridge can you hear us? Louder by the hour"

7:24pm The University has denied CDE's claim that there have been attempts so far to remove anyone from the building, calling it "completely untrue".

7:23pm Students are chanting: “when our rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” 

7:21pm Paul Mylrea, the University’s director of communications, is on the scene inside Old Schools

7:19pm Matt Kite, representative from Cambridge Defend Education says "so long as UCU are continuing the strikes... we'll continue to support those strikes which means continuing the occupation."

7:14pm  Sociology lecturer and senior Cambridge UCU member, Dr Jeff Miley, is demanding to be let into the building, saying to security: "You guys better not be physically removing any of those students. You will be held accountable."

7:12pm Welcome – Cambridge Defend Education has occupied Old Schools, at the heart of the University, in support of the UCU staff strike. Varsity reporters are at the scene.