Finland – People fed up with the constant rundown of education and research have occupied the University of Helsinki, Porthania building today. This politically independent occupation is a message from within the university community against austerity politics. At the same time, it is an entry into a broader front against cuts and a show of solidarity with Friday’s union action. The occupation joins us as part of an international university movement that opposes austerity politics and the shift towards market-oriented education.
The unprecedented education cuts, made under the guise of austerity, will drastically undermine universities’ position in society and their role as a pillar of civilization. The announced massive employee cooperation negotiations will be impossible to carry out without destroying the level of research and teaching. The occupiers of Porthania call into question the replacement of decreased state funding with increased commercial cooperation.
The occupiers of Porthania demand the rejection of empty talk about changes and development. Talk of change does not mean anything in itself. The occupiers are not longing for a time gone by, but want to express what kind of change they want to see at the university and in the society. Their message is absolute: quality research, teaching and studying cannot be generated by making everyday life miserable, desiccating research funding or reducing jobs.
The university community has already suffered from constant funding cuts, structural reforms, staff reductions and curricular reforms during the term of the previous government. These reforms and changes are part of a constant spiral of reforming and developing that has not lead to the improvement of research, studies or the university community. The most distinct change to the societal position of the university was the Universities Act of 2009, which has enabled the centralization of power from the university community to university management and the board. University management at the University of Helsinki has shown an uncritical public response to education cuts. This is unacceptable. Therefore, the people of the university are taking over their own spaces to demonstrate that the autonomy of universities is not for sale.
The occupiers announce that they have had enough. The participants of the occupation invite everyone who opposes education cuts to join the occupation and show their support to the demonstration.
— A-ryhmä (@A_ryhma) September 18, 2015
— Mikael Brunila (@mikaelbrunila) September 18, 2015
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