Students occupy Auckland University clock tower

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 13:57 15/10/2012

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About 30 protesters who barricaded themselves in the University of Auckland clock tower in a protest over possible student fees hikes have left on their own accord, but not before damaging the building.

Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon was among a number of staff and university council members who were to meet today to discuss whether to follow the lead of other universities and raise fees.

McCutcheon was seen fleeing from the clocktower building shortly after 3pm and the meeting was understood to have been moved to a different location. 

Student protest leader Adam Craigie said protesters were told by the university to come to the clocktower at 3pm where they would be able to watch a live stream of the meeting.

However he said when the students arrived they weren't allowed into the building.

About 30 pushed past security and made their way in where they barricaded themselves in a room and were throwing chairs around.

Four doors were damaged and the fridge was raided in a common room in the building and a window was understood to have been broken.

Protesters left the building about 5.30pm and were heading to McCutcheon's office to continue their protest.

There were about 10 police officers at the scene. They said there had been no arrests.

Earlier this afternoon a large number of university staff members were understood to have been told to leave their buildings ahead of the protest.

The same meeting last year sparked widespread protests on campus after students were refused entry to the meeting.

Protesters stormed the university's clock tower last year and police were called to campus after the university decided to raise course fees by four per cent. 

Student James Roberts, who helped organise today's protest, said more than 300 students had put their hand up to join the rally at 3pm.

"Fees have already gone up across all the other universities and the vice-chancellor [Stuart McCutheon] made it clear they will be raising theirs."

Roberts said higher fees would make it difficult for students to afford tertiary education.

"We are going to do everything we can do for students to have a voice."

Auckland University could not be reached for comment.


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