Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search the University of Manchester siteSearch Menu StaffNet

Updated: Exam contingency plans following occupation of the Whitworth Hall

27 May 2024

Well-established contingency plans now activated following attempted disruption to exams. (updated Tuesday 28 May)

The Whitworth arch.

Over the weekend, a group of students from our University gained unauthorised access to the Whitworth Hall complex.

Various entrances and access points have been unlawfully barricaded, and occupiers have broken onto a balcony, which poses significant health and safety risks to occupiers and others. We are in discussions with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service about these risks, which go well beyond those we have seen in previous occupations.  

Furthermore, on the evening of Monday 27 May 2024, a large demonstration occurred on campus, which included members of the public, as well as some of our students. Greater Manchester Police were in attendance, as is standard procedure for large protests.

Despite claims made on social media, no action has been taken to remove those occupying Whitworth Hall, by either our Campus Support and Security staff or Greater Manchester Police.

Closure of Christie building, John Owen's and Beyer building 

The Christie building and Christie’s Bistro, John Owen's and Beyer building will be closed on Tuesday 28 May. Staff who are usually based in this venue are being asked to work from home or in alternative locations on campus. 

Exam contingency plans  

We have written to the individuals occupying the Whitworth Hall complex, requesting that they vacate the premises to allow exams to proceed as planned. Unfortunately, they have refused.

As a result, we are now activating our well-established exam contingency plans, but it is deeply disappointing that their actions are directly impacting on what is already, for all those undertaking assessments at present, one of the most intense periods in the academic year.

We have published a piece on Student News and have directly contacted students who are set to take their exams in Whitworth Hall this week. We are asking these students to go to the ground floor of University Place at least 20 minutes before the scheduled exam start. Marshals will be present to direct students to their new exam location. The start time of exams will be delayed to account for this disruption. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the action of this small group does not impact our students further.

We firmly support students' rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful protest. These are fundamental rights that allow for a healthy exchange of ideas. However, disrupting exams violates the standards of behaviour and conduct we expect from students, as outlined in our Student Charter and student disciplinary regulations.  

Background to the current protests 

  • We have previously published our position on the issues behind the current protests.