Published Wednesday, 18 December 2013
A picture from the scene of the protest at the University of Ulster in Coleraine (© @paddymsp)
Students and other campaigners have been occupying the Senior Common Room in a protest, now into its third week, against the closure of the service.
They claim the space will be converted into "a corporate dining suite" which students would not be able to access.
Neil Moore, who is playing an active role in the campaign, stated: "The university management seem to have absolutely no consideration for the tenants inside.
"The exits were boarded up around 8am, followed shortly by water and, since about 10am, the power has now been shut off.
"A disabled student inside is being held captive by the fact that lifts are being made non-operational and only one narrow exit has not been blocked off."
The protestors claim the plans for the Senior Common Room are a sign of further "privatisation and marketisation" of universities.
The university's senior management has kept the Senior Common Room Committee fully informed of the upgrade plans and the schedule for the commencement of construction work.
University of Ulster
But, in a statement to UTV, the university said it was "disappointed" by the protest.
A spokesman said: "The university is disappointed that a small number of people - fewer than 10 - are trying to prevent improvement work to facilities at our Coleraine campus.
"We should make it clear that the Senior Common Room on the Coleraine campus is not a facility which is open to all staff and students. It is a private club charging a fee for membership.
"As part of our multi-million-pound investment programme in the physical estate at the Coleraine campus, the area formerly occupied by the Senior Common Room is being repurposed with the creation of high-quality meeting rooms and teaching facilities.
"Also as part of that upgrade work, a new staff common room open to all staff free of charge will be provided by the university. This will be more inclusive than the existing arrangements. The new staff common room will be bookable by student clubs and societies at evenings and weekends."
The protestors are calling for the Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry to intervene.
Police say they are aware of the ongoing protest and are monitoring the situation.
© UTV News