By Daphne Liddle
STUDENTS took to the streets again in huge numbers in London and throughout the rest of the country to express their anger at broken promises and Con-Dem plans to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year.
Student marches took place in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Cambridge, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Southampton, Oxford, Leeds, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh and other places.
There have been occupations at many universities, including Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, Royal Holloway, Plymouth, Birmingham, London South Bank, UCL, Essex and UWE Bristol.
Thousands of senior school students have also walked out of their classes — it is they who will face the higher tuition fees if they succeed in getting a university place.
They are also protesting about the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance — a means-tested benefit paid to students aged 16 to 18-years-old who stay in full-time education at a maximum of £30-a-week.
Young people that age are not eligible for jobseekers’ allowance nor are their families eligible for child benefit on their behalf.
It is a benefit that allows students from low income families to stay on and take A-levels and try for a university place rather than be forced to seek work. Without it many students would be denied the opportunity to try to get to university.
Thousands of protesters gathered in and around Whitehall and Trafalgar Square, intending to take their message to Parliament and to the headquarters of the Liberal Democrat Party.
Police were out in force in Whitehall determined to block the students’ route to protest at the Liberal Democrat Party headquarters and prevent it being trashed in the way that the Tory party headquarters were attacked and occupied a fortnight ago. The students targeted the Lib-Dems because of the promises they made before the last election that they would abolish student fees and under no circumstances support them being raised.
‘Why should the next generation have to pay more? The Tories are hitting working families, just like they did with the Poll Tax’.
Students clashed with the police cordon at the southern end of Whitehall and a police van was vandalised and police protective clothing taken from the van. Demonstrators hanged an effigy of Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib-Dem leader. Students tried to deliver a letter to him, which read: “No amount of twisted reasoning from either you or Vince Cable can hide what everyone can see: you have lied to us.
“We call on you to withdraw Lib-Dem support for Conservative cuts to our education system, or face the disappointment and anger of a generation that has been betrayed.”
Around 3,000 protesters in Manchester congregated outside the town hall. The demonstration spilled onto Princess Street, causing traffic chaos in the city centre.
Police had directed the march to Castlefield, but a group broke away towards the town hall, and the rest followed later.
Around 30 officers blocked the entrance to the building as protesters sat down in front of them, chanting against education cuts and the coalition government.
In Sheffield, Nina Fellows, 16, said up to 200 pupils had left her school — King Edward VII, in Broomhill — to join the protest. She said many had brought in notes from their parents to excuse them from lessons.
“We’re going to be going to university, hopefully, in the next couple of years and we’re worried about our future,” she said.
More than 200 sixth-formers from Camden School for Girls attended the London march after sending an open letter to their teachers that began: “Walking out of school is not easy, but we have no other option.”
In London there were a number of arrests for violent disorder and reports that two police officers and 11 demonstrators were injured. Tom Lugg, 23, studying mental health nursing at Kingston University, Surrey, said: “It shows the young people of Britain are pretty angry. I don’t agree with what some of them are doing but we have to empathise.
“Why should the next generation have to pay more? The Tories are hitting working families, just like they did with the Poll Tax.”