The University of Sheffield approach to occupations of University buildings

The University’s initial response to occupations when they occur in University buildings. 


The University of Sheffield encourages students to respectfully share, debate and challenge views and positions on a wide range of issues. As part of our legal obligations, we are required to uphold freedom of speech within the law, which may include allowing individuals or groups to host events or speakers that others don’t agree with or wish to demonstrate against. For students who wish to organise a protest on the University’s campus, the University has provided guidance to help protesters and organisers to be supported and protests delivered safely. 

In recent years there have been a number of occupations at the University of Sheffield campus. Small groups of students and others have occupied buildings to disrupt teaching, learning, research, events and other University activities. While these occupations can be peaceful, they can also feel intimidating for students, staff and visitors to the University. 

The disruption caused by occupations is often significant and many students and staff have asked leaders at the University to take steps to minimise disruption where possible. The University has a responsibility to maintain a safe, effective and welcoming environment for all our students, staff and visitors. This page outlines the University’s initial response to occupations when they occur in University buildings. 

Response to occupations 

  • If there is an occupation in a University building, staff and students are encouraged to alert the University’s Security Services Team by calling 0114 222 4085 or by using the Safezone app. 

  • Once onsite, Security Services will speak to the occupiers, inform them that any rights of access have been removed, that they are now trespassing and ask them to leave the building. If they refuse to leave, Security Services will give the occupiers a safety briefing. 

  • Key representatives from the University will convene an Incident Management Team to discuss the best ways to minimise disruption and direct responses to the occupation. 

  • The Security Services Team may temporarily close the affected building, with a view to reopening as soon as it is safe to do so. 

  • Where possible, Security Services will seek to keep open/reopen the building with planned University activities delivered. 

  • When a building needs to close for safety reasons, affected students and staff will receive email communications including (where relevant) alternative arrangements for teaching. 

  • Any actions taken by the University’s Security Team or other staff will be inline with established health and safety policies and guidance. 

The University of Sheffield Code of Conduct 

The University of Sheffield has a clear Student Code of Conduct that outlines behavioural expectations. Students who choose to participate in occupations may find themselves subject to the University's disciplinary processes and face penalties, which could include exclusion from the University. When considering what action to take against a student, the University considers the severity of the breach, the impact on other students and staff and any previous incidents of misconduct.

If you have any questions about the information above, please contact: