Message from the Vice-Chancellor: update on the encampment on campus

I expect that most of you who use the campus in Edgbaston will have seen the encampments that appeared from early May, first on the Green Heart outside the Library, and then in Chancellor’s Court outside the Aston Webb Building.

From the very beginning my senior team have offered to engage with those involved, to listen to their concerns and find a route to ending the camps. Camp representatives have refused offers to meet with senior university representatives including the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) unless specific demands were agreed to in advance, meaning that discussions have not been able to progress. Instead, they have chosen to escalate actions, crossing the line into completely unacceptable behaviour.

Following careful and very challenging reflection on this situation, it is with a heavy heart that I am writing to let you know that yesterday we made the decision to go to Court to request a Possession Order to end the disruption being caused to University land and activity being caused by the camps.

This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. I absolutely recognise that some students and staff may wish to take part in protests and respect their right to do so peacefully within the law and University regulations. However, the rights to protest and to freedom of speech do not include setting up a camp and occupying University land, to the detriment of the rest of the University community. Nor does it include recent actions that we have seen on campus which have created a hostile environment for some of our student and staff community, such as:

  • mask-wearing groups shouting at, harassing and intimidating staff in their place of work;
  • disrupting University activities like the Summer-term programme and Grad Ball to cause maximum disruption to thousands of our students;
  • vandalising buildings across campus, spraying paint across the front of the Aston Webb building (causing significant and costly damage to historic items that are part of Research and Cultural Collections), South Lodge and other heritage buildings on campus and spraying graffiti on the entrances to campus;
  • inviting external groups/speakers onto campus without permission

Taking legal action is not a step that any of us would take lightly and I recognise that not everyone will agree with this approach. This is now necessary as a result of the escalation and unacceptable behaviour, and in order to look after the interests of the whole University community, including students and graduands, and their families and friends who wish to enjoy their graduation ceremonies without concern that their special day will be disrupted.

In parallel we will continue to seek dialogue and push for an alternative resolution. We would like to find a way that pro-Palestinian protests can be held in a way that allows the protestors’ views to be expressed within the University’s Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech and with the encampment ending, while also allowing the University’s normal activities to continue in a way that is safe and inclusive for all.

From the many conversations I have had with staff and students, I know that there are members of our community who have been directly impacted by the conflict and many more who feel very strongly about it. This action is not about taking a political position as an institution. I am unequivocal in recognising that this conflict continues to cause unimaginable suffering and continue to hope for an immediate ceasefire, the release of the remaining hostages, the delivery of vital aid, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict. If you would like to find out more about the University’s support for those affected by events in Palestine and Israel we have set up a dedicated web page. You can also find out more about our commitments to ethical investment. This includes links to the full list of the funds that the University is invested in.

I also know from those discussions, that our students, staff, and the wider community want to see our campus return to being a space for all and an end to the disruption; a place where we can enable people to speak freely (including peaceful protest) and within the law about those issues that matter to them, while ensuring that we all maintain our values of mutual care and respect.

I understand that some students may wish to seek advice and support and our support services are available throughout the summer months:

  • Our network of Wellbeing Officers in every School and College provide practical and emotional support, particularly with reference to students’ academic work, commitments and deadlines. Also, our 24/7/365 emotional support service, UBHeard, is available for all registered students (undergraduate and postgraduate).
  • Our Community Safety Team, on campus, can offer practical advice and support. Also, I would highlight that we operate an online reporting tool, Report + Support, for all forms of harassment and hate crime. We have a dedicated team of responders who can provide both practical and emotional support to students and staff members.

Thank you all for your understanding,


Adam Tickell, Vice Chancellor and Principal


Professional Services