Tuition fees: Student protests take over England and Scotland

The embryonic student protest movement has made its voice heard in recent weeks
The embryonic student protest movement has made its voice heard in recent weeks

By Ian Dunt

Student demonstrations take over England and Scotland today, as the build-up to tomorrow's demo took place in university campuses and city centres.

In Leeds, hundreds of students marched past the town hall protesting against tuition fees before occupying the Michael Saler building on campus.

Students and staff at Exeter College occupied the Peter Chalk Centre. There were also occupations in Newcastle, Bristol, Bradford and York, where physics students were in the seventh day of their sit-in.

Demonstrations also took place in Reading, Sheffield and Manchester.

In Scotland, hundreds of people signed pledges never to vote for the Liberal Democrats again and taped them to the walls of the Scottish parliament.

Protests were also taking place in Glasgow, Stirling, Aberdeen and Dundee, according to the National Union of Students (NUS).

In London, Royal College of Art students were engaged in an occupation, as were Birkbeck, Metropolitan University and Goldsmiths students.

In Camden School for Girls, around 50 A-level pupils occupied the sixth form hall on the open day for prospective year six students.

London was again a buzz of activity as the various occupations in the capital struggled on, despite various attempts by university management to have them ended through the courts.

Students at University College London (UCL) continued their occupation, which has come to be seen as the leading light in the various battles on campus.

In a sign of UCL students' achievements, tomorrow's march, which is expected to be the biggest since the nascent protest movement began, will start at Malet Street, near the campus.

Activists were irritated that Commander Bob Broadhurst, head of the Met's public order branch, chose to warn of violence at the demonstrations yesterday. Some say the comments are intended to promote a sense of violence about the demonstrations to pre-emptively justify a heavy-handed police response on the day.

"Violence and disorder is often a result of a minority who are determined to cause trouble," Mr Broadhurst said.

"Police officers will endeavour to assist young and vulnerable people as much as they can if violence breaks out during a protest, but there is only so much they can do once they are in a crowd of thousands."

The Met said it had worked closely with the NUS and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) to map out the timing and route of the march, which will end with a rally at Victoria Embankment.

The tuition fee vote is will take place tomorrow. Although there is expected to be a substantial rebellion against the government, the motion is unlikely to fail.


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