Rally over Middlesex University protesters' suspension

image captionThe overnight rally was in support of the suspended teachers and students

About 200 students and staff from Middlesex University have staged an overnight sit-in protest over the closure of the philosophy department.

The rally was in support of three teachers and four students suspended for taking part in previous protests.

Campaigners rallying in Hendon campus since the announcement on 26 April, said the course is "world renowned".

But the university gave "low demand" and "declining research funding" as reasons for closing the department.

Faculty members and students held a 12-day long protest this month at the philosophy department's campus.

A court order ruling their action illegal put a stop to the occupation.

The teachers and students are now facing disciplinary action for participating in the protest.

Online petition

Philosophy student Anindya Bhattacharya, 38, of Whitechapel, east London, took part in the overnight protest.

He said: "They are our fellow students on the philosophy course here and we believe they have been unfairly singled out and victimised for exercising their entirely legitimate democratic right to protest against the closure of their own department.

"I think all departments need to fight against these cuts otherwise they will just pick us off one by one."

image captionStudents and staff occupied the campus for 12 days

Shannan Caughley, 31, who has come from Dallas, Texas, to join the course, said: "I was drawn because of the reputation of the philosophy department - the faculty is world-renowned."

More than 14,000 people have signed an online petition against the closure.

Academics from King's College London, Birkbeck College, Goldsmiths, London School of Economics and University College of London have also backed the call to keep the department.

Middlesex University said it would not take in any new students.

A spokeswoman said: "Philosophy provision at Middlesex is only able to operate with subsidies from other areas of the university.

"Due to a low demand from students and declining external research funding, we have decided to phase out philosophy teaching."

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