THIS WEEK IN 1977: Students prepare for poly sit-in against increasing tuition fees

After a complete change of heart, student union leaders were urging their members to go into immediate occupation at Portsmouth Polytechnic. But the building chosen for the sit-in was a well-guarded secret.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 5:00 am
People arriving at Portsmouth Guildhall had to walk through lines of picketing students, protesting over grants while the polytechnic governors' meeting was being held inside

Student union president Tom Edwards, who previously said he would resign rather than lead the union into occupation, said he changed his mind after discussion with other leaders.

A committee formed to arrange contingency plans for an occupation met for six hours to thrash out reaction to the governors’ reception of their demands.

‘On reflection, some of the governors answers to our demands, which seemed satisfactory at the time, were clearly an attempt to fob us off,’ he said.

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‘I was under a lot of pressure to put our case to the governors and rather stupidly accepted one or two of their excuses for being unable to help us.’

An attempt to start an occupation previously was heavily defeated with the assistance of Mr Edwards.

But with their leader backing the sit-in, it was likely to get full support of a student majority meeting.

About 30 colleges in Britain were being occupied by students protesting at higher tuition fees.