Fossil Free University of Manchester activists occupied their Vice Chancellor’s office yesterday campaigning for UoM to remove its £11.3 million investments from the fossil fuels industry.

They went into occupation as the university hosted the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges Conference. In response to their calls for open dialogue with management about divestment from fossil fuels, they were met with heavy handed tactics and denied access to toilets, running water and supplies from outside.

Manchester UCU also took part in solidarity actions on the day. They will be continuing their four-year campaign for divestment!


Read their letter to senior management here:

Dear Senior Leadership Team,

As you may know People and Planet have been occupying the John Owens building since 9.30am on the morning of the 19th of June. This was intended as a peaceful protest to call for the University of Manchester to remove its £11.3 million of investments from the fossil fuel industry. Our main aim was to open dialogue with the University.

The climate and ecological crisis that we are currently facing is putting pressure on all our institutions. We believe that any University has a responsibility to invest in the future of young people. The University of Manchester has a social responsibility as its third key aim, and a history of being forward thinking and pioneering; as such it is unfortunate that the University is being left behind as 76 other UK universities have already committed to divestment.

This occupation was a response to the negligence of the senior management team at Manchester. From the beginning of the campaign, 4 years ago, we have been asking for open and honest communication with Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell, the Board of Governors, and the Senior Leadership Team. Instead, our occupation was met wit heavy handed tactics which put both our physical and mental wellbeing at risk. We were denied access to toilets, running water, and supplies from outside. Ultimately, a number of us had no choice but to leave despite having remained peaceful and respectable for over 13 hours.

We want you to know that we have had constant messages of support from staff and students. Especially from the UCU teachers union who staged solidarity actions during the day, and the Students’ Union who campaigned for our access to facilities and brought us fresh water. Moreover, we heard from attendees of the EAUC (Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges) conference who not only supported our action but have expressed a desire for Manchester to divest.

We hope that you, the Senior Leadership Team, will sit down to discuss divestment with us. Although we recognise that divestment is not the fix-all-solution to climate breakdown, it is an important step for the University of Manchester. As we are sure you are aware, the consequences of inaction are not worth considering, and a commitment to divest will show that you care about the future of your students.

Yours faithfully,

People & Planet