A FRESH 'abuse of power' row has erupted at the University of Aberdeen after students occupying a building in support of academics in a pension dispute were forced to remain over night after it was claimed managment "reneged" on a free access agreement.

Protesters who have taken up position in the senior management corridor at the University of Aberdeen's administration building in Regent Walk say they now even have to be escorted by security staff if they want to do the toilet.  And they can only go one at a time, they say.

That's despite university secretary, Caroline Inglis, apparently signing a note guaranteeing the students open access to the occupation amid a University College Union dispute over lecturers' pensions.

Students say that she "reneged" on this commitment, and the doors of University Office were locked, with students being refused entry.

The protest group said: "Even when students had to take medication in the bathroom only one student at a time was permitted. Simply outrageous."

The latest dispute is seen by some as the latest twist in the friction between students and management which came to the surface in the row over the scrapping of the Rector's election in November.


The new row began, before the UCU meeting to discuss the pensions dispute offer took place with protesters saying that Mike Greaves, interim senior vice principal at Aberdeen, misled students with an email in which he said that they expected the strike action to stop from Wednesday and that schools would be rescheduling classes missed due to strike action.

At around 3pm as the decision from the UCU to reject the pensions dispute offer was announced about a dozen students occupied the University Office building.


The University and College Union (UCU) has been locked in a battle with Universities UK (UUK) over proposed pension reforms to address a reported deficit and rising benefit costs.

An agreement was reached between the parties on Monday under which employers and employees would both temporarily pay higher contributions to plug the funding gap.

The proposals were considered by UCU's higher education committee and branch representatives on Tuesday, but rejected, the union said.

The newly re-elected university rector Maggie Chapman supported the student activists' occupation saying: “This behaviour by the University secretary and senior vice principal does little to dispel the perception of a management culture where students are not seen as valued members of an open, intellectual community, but rather as annoyances and an inconvenience to the Institution, which is ironic given that a university is nothing without its students."


The protest group said: "This lack of willingness to accept the demands of occupiers, and the wildly strict security measures being implemented, demonstrate the acute lack of respect the university has for its staff and the students - ironically the people without whom this institution could not run!"

Lewis Macleod, the communities officer of the Students’ Association described the events as "unreasonable" adding: "It systematic of how things are in the institution. "The are refusing to allow any other people come and if we go out we won't be let back in. We are incredibly also being escorted if we want to go to the toilet.

"We will be here all night."

In December the university was at the centre of an "abuse of power" row as it ratified a decision to scrap the Rector election over allegations of "dirty tricks" by the campaign for Ms Chapman, the co-convenor of the Scottish Greens.

A leaked document revealed that the elections committee indicated that the decision was against the "interests of fairness and natural justice" because Ms Chapman's team had no right of reply.

Support for the elections committee decision to ditch the vote came at the university's Senate on Wednesday which decided that "due process was followed".

A re-vote was called for after at least one other candidate wanted Ms Chapman, the current Rector, removed from the ballot in a row over hundreds of campaign posters being torn down.

There were complaints a smaller number of posters were also removed by other candidates but it was claimed Ms Chapman's campaign was the worst offender.

But she convincingly won the re-vote at the end of last month.

A University of Aberdeen spokesman said: “It is disappointing that the agreement facilitated by ACAS has been rejected by the UCU. As a result, we understand the industrial action will not be called off.

“Our students’ learning experience and the welfare of our staff and students remain our number one priority, and we will continue to make every effort to minimise the impact of this action.

“We are engaged in dialogue with students who are currently protesting at the University Office.”