It is estimated that over 40 students at the University of Edinburgh are holding a sit-in protest at the offices of the university's finance director, demanding an increase in staff pay.
The occupation movement comes a day before many university staff were set to go on strike for the second time. Members of Unison, the University and College Union, Unite and the Educational Institute of Scotland are protesting against a proposed 1 per cent increase in wages, which they say amounts to a 13 per cent pay cut in real terms since October 2008.
Unite National Officer for Education Mike McCartney called the one per cent pay offer “completely unacceptable”, stating that the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector was now over £1 billion.
Edinburgh University Students' Assocation (EUSA) Vice President Kirsty Haigh is among the occupiers. She said the University of Edinburgh "has plenty of money", adding: "We see this every day with millions going on vanity projects and senior managers' pay. We are calling on the University to see sense and give staff the pay they deserve.”
"University staff have had a real term pay cut... and this is not acceptable. While the Principal earns £227,000 staff have been forced out on strike to demand the wage they deserve. We demand that the university listens to the trade unions and increases staff pay."
She added on her official Facebook page that the occupying students were demanding that the pay ratio between the lowest and highest paid staff is reduced to 10:1.
EUSA President Hugh Murdoch added: "Staff at Edinburgh University have undergone real term paycuts of 15 per cent over the past 4 years. We support the strike and students' right to protest.
"To ensure the welfare of students involved we will be working with them and the university throughout the occupation."
Last week, EUSA sent a letter to the Joint Liason Committee, which was then passed onto their members, "actively encouraging them to take strike action". The letter stated that "in the short term this will indeed affect our education, but the long term benefits are significantly vaster. It is critical that students and staff struggle collectively."
Tomorrow’s strikes follow an earlier day of walk-outs on October 31 which affected 149 UK universities, according to union leaders. The National Union of Students and other students associations, including EUSA, supported the strikes - resisting what they said were attempts by management to "divide and rule".
The occupation follows similar actions at Birmingham and Sussex Universities protesting the outsourcing of staff and course closures.