The University of Sussex’s offer, and our response
FROM THE UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT: REQUESTS IN RELATION TO THE BRAMBER HOUSE ACTION
The University recognises the support by staff and students for Luqman Onikosi and understands the strong feelings that many of our campus community has in relation to his plight. Although the University is unable to influence the decision of the Home Office in relation to Mr Onikosi’s visa, we are sympathetic to his position and that of his supporters.
Last night a meeting was held with the PVC of Learning, Professor Clare Mackie, four representatives of Mr Onikosi’s supporters and two of the Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers. PVC Mackie listened to the group and following this meeting, the University has considered the points and responded below.
1. Although the University appreciates the group’s position in relation to Mr Onikosi’s visa status, the University is not able to make any further public statement in respect to the Home Office. The University has around 2000 students and 90 members of staff who require a special visa in order to study and work in the UK. We cannot do anything which risks the visa status of these people.
2. The University believes it currently has an inclusive Teaching and Learning strategy. All staff have the academic freedom to pursue their own discipline interests, without the constraints or input from University management.
However, we will conduct a comprehensive review of all curricula to ensure that they represent the truly global institution that Sussex is. PVC Mackie will raise this matter at the Teaching and Learning Committee meeting next week. The Committee will ask all Directors of Teaching and Learning, in each of our academic schools, to assess the current module reading list and review all curricula.
3. We have heard the group’s points in relation to the Government’s Prevent agenda. The University’s governing Council, of which the Students’ Union President is a member, is required to ensure that Sussex is compliant with the Government’s requirements. We will ensure Prevent is raised as an agenda item at the next Council meeting in April so as to ensure the concerns of the group, via the Students’ Union President, is heard.
Thank you for the swift response. Whilst we appreciate your concessions and concerns we feel that many of our demands have been overlooked, and that University management has not done everything in their power to support our campaign.
Please find our response below.
1. Award Luqman his MA.
The University’s response has not addressed our demand that they award Mr Luqman Onikosi his MA in Global Political Economy. We demand that the University award him his MA.
2. End collaboration with the Home Office, including legally and politically challenging Prevent and International Student Licensing. We also demand that the University publicly state your opposition to Luqman’s deportation.
We believe that the University’s claim that “the University is not able to make any further public statement in respect to the Home Office” is disingenuous. Whilst we do not want to risk the status and safety of other international students and staff, we still demand that the University stands with us against the Home Office by issuing a statement.
Whilst we realise that the University of Sussex cannot take direct action against the rulings of the Home Office, it is within your power to release a statement stating your opposition to certain aspects of Home Office legislation on moral grounds. We demand that the University release this statement as soon as possible to sHome Office Off Campushow an understanding of the University’s obligation to us as students.
We welcome the University’s proposal to raise Prevent as an agenda item for the next Council meeting. However, in reality, this is no more than words. We demand that Prevent is put at the top of the Agenda and that there is significant student representation of our choosing at the Council meeting where they will discuss Prevent. We demand an open meeting where all students can attend as observers and any Student Rep and Student Union staff should be able to speak freely and be heard on this matter.
3. Convert the 50 fee scholarships for refugees into full scholarships including living support
We demand 50 full scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers. In addition to the 50 Syrian English language scholarships that you have launched, which we fully support, we want 50 full refugee scholarships. We demand the University cover full tuition fees and living costs for 50 refugees and asylum seekers to study any degree they wish at the University of Sussex.
4. Conduct an immediate review of curriculum with the Sussex school of Global Studies Initiative: Decolonizing Education: Towards Academic Freedom In Pluriversality (DETAFIP).
The University’s proposal to “conduct a comprehensive review of all curricula to ensure that they represent the truly global institution that Sussex is” is a welcome step in the right direction, but we do not believe it goes far enough. We demand that this review and following changes must be done in close partnership with the already established Global Studies initiative “Decolonizing Education: Towards Academic Freedom In Pluriversality” (DETAFIP). We know we are much stronger working together, and that student and staff engagement and participation in the matter will make this infinitely more fruitful.
Finally, we demand an open meeting with University management as soon as possible to discuss the above proposals. This must take place before the Easter break.
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