Huge police response at University of Manchester as protesters 'barricade' exam building

A huge police response outside on the University of Manchester campus
-Credit: (Image: ASP)


There was a huge police response at the University of Manchester last night as more protesters tried to get into an exam building on campus.

A large number of police vehicles were pictured along Oxford Road in the centre of the campus at around 8.30pm on Monday (May 27). The response included a specialist Tactical Aid Unit van.

A UoM spokesperson said officers were called to a demonstration on campus. It involved a 'large group including many who were not students'. Police were on the scene to 'prevent the protesters from gaining unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex'.

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However, over the weekend, some students already gained entry into the historic building after 'unlawfully barricading' the entrances. The students broke onto a balcony, the University spokesperson said, and have refused to leave.

The building is where exams were due to take place, with bosses 'deeply disappointed' that new plans have had to be put in place for students. Greater Manchester Police have been contacted for further details.

In a statement, a University of Manchester spokesperson said: "Over the weekend, a group of students from our University gained unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex. Various entrances and access points have been unlawfully barricaded, and occupiers have broken onto a balcony, which poses significant health and safety risks to the occupiers and others.

"We are in discussions with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Services about these risks, which go well beyond those we have seen previously. We have written to the individuals occupying the Whitworth Hall complex, requesting that they vacate the premises to allow student exam to proceed as planned. Unfortunately, they have refused.

Police outside the university on Sunday
Police outside the university on Sunday -Credit:ASP

"As a result, we are now activating our well-established exam contingency plans, but it is deeply disappointing that their actions are directly impacting on what is already, for all those undertaking assessments at present, one of the most intense periods in the academic year. We have emailed all students due to take an exam in the Whitworth Hall of new arrangements and provided updates to Student News.

"We will also have extra marshals to direct students to their new exam locations and will delay the start of those exams to account for this disruption. The duration of the exam will remain unchanged, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the action of this small group does not impact our students further.

"As the University has been clear in the formal notice delivered to them today and in previous formal notices issued to occupiers, the University firmly support students’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful protest. These are fundamental rights that allow for a healthy exchange of ideas.

The Gaza protest camp at the university
The Gaza protest camp at the university -Credit:ASP

"However, deliberately disrupting exams clearly violates the standards of behaviour and conduct from students, as outlined in our Student Charter and student disciplinary regulations."

This comes after earlier this month, students set up a Gaza protest camp at Brunswick Park on campus. They said they will remain on the camp until the university ‘meets their demands’.

University bosses previously said they 'fully recognise the right of staff and students to protest within the law.' However, they have said the camp 'raises potential health and safety concerns, risks disruption to staff, students and our wider community' and is 'ultimately an 'unauthorised and unlawful use' of the University's campus.'

Some Jewish students also said the camp left them feeling 'intimidated.' Last night, a number of tents remained erected on the encampment.

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