Students occupy campus angry at plans to sell it
Students at London Metropolitan University are occupying a campus building, angry at plans to sell it.
They entered Central House in Whitechapel, home to the Cass art school, on Wednesday night, demanding it be taken off the market.
The university says the closure will allow it to consolidate all its courses on one site.
But the group, Occupy the Cass, says the plan will lead to cuts to courses and jobs and is an attack on education.
More than a dozen students are camped out in the Bank Gallery, inside Central House, saying its proposed sale "to luxury property developers or the banking industry would be a disgrace".
They say there is not enough room to accommodate all the courses currently taught in Central House at the university's main campus in north London's Holloway Road and 93 jobs are at risk.
"Shrinking London Met to one campus will mean course cuts, job losses and a cut to student places," they say.
"It's being done in such a dreadful way with no consultation with students," said Maggie, one of the organisers.
She said the changes amounted to "asset stripping", suggesting the cuts were deliberately designed to put prospective students off applying to London Met so that the university could be "dismantled".
"We don't know how long we are going to stay," she added.
The occupation has the support of the University and College Union and Unison, says the group, as well as artist BobandRoberta Smith.
In a statement the university said it was investing £125m to create a new home for the Cass "complete with new workshops and studio spaces".
"We appreciate that some students are concerned about the move, but we'd like to reassure them that the Cass is not closing, nor will it's making ethos or successful studio model of teaching be lost," it said.
The move would mean the art faculty could be in one location rather than being split between two sites, the statement said.
"Students have already highlighted the success of the previous merger between the School of Architecture and School of Art and Design to form the Cass three years ago, and we believe another move, with considerably more investment, can only be positive.
"We are inviting students to work with us to shape the Cass's future together, and we'd urge those occupying today to accept that offer."