Six students have been suspended after university bosses cracked down on a campus revolt.
The University of Sussex students – dubbed “The Sussex Six” – could now face expulsion after more than 50 protesters stormed Sussex House, at the Falmer campus, on Wednesday.
But the university’s “hardline” response to the demonstration against plans to cut 115 jobs has been slammed by critics who warned it would only inflame the situation.
The university was granted a High Court injunction banning people from “entering” or “remaining” on campus without the university’s prior written consent.
However, the university denied it was an attempt to stifle peaceful protest on its site.
A spokesman said: “We have been granted an injunction which is designed to prevent a repeat of last week.
It does not prevent peaceful protest on campus.”
Tom Wills, Student Union president, demanded the six be allowed back on campus and criticised vice-chancellor Professor Michael Farthing for his use of a rule that allowed him to suspend a student “without assigning a reason”.
Yesterday, Prof Farthing said: “I will not stand by and condone breaches of the law, nor will I accept aggressive, confrontational and intimidatory behaviour towards staff.”
The “Sussex Six” were sent emails from the university on Friday afternoon confirming their suspension.
They have been banned from the campus, including the library and seminars, for 30 working days, which could be renewed at the end of the suspension.
One of the six, who did not want to be named, said they were being targeted as “ringleaders”.
The 20-year-old English and drama student said: “I think they are picking people out to see if they can break the movement.”
Councillor Bill Randall, the Green Party convenor on the city council, has written to Prof Farthing asking for an explanation on why the six students were suspended.
He said: “The university reaction to the student protest is likely only to worsen the situation.”