Don’t get violent, tuition fee protesters told

By Alex Stevenson

Universities minister David Willetts has appealed to tuition fee protesters to avoid violence in Wednesday's upcoming protest.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is preparing to march through central London in what some hope will be a repeat of last autumn's violent demonstration.

The Metropolitan police are preparing carefully for the march, but ministers hope the government's message to students – that there is no upfront cost for going to university – will quell dissent.

"I think it would be appalling if we had a repeat of those shocking events earlier in the year," Mr Willetts told Sky News' Murnaghan programme.

"I think it would be really very bad indeed. Everybody understands there is a peaceful right to protest. It should not become violent."

Last December saw the Commons approve the plans to raise the limit for tuition fees to £9,000 a year, prompting huge anger against the Liberal Democrats who reneged on their pre-election pledge to avoid an increase.

"We're doing this to offer young people a better deal at university," Mr Willetts insisted.

"It would be terrible if young people played up to an unfair caricature of what they're are like when I know the vast majority of people are not violent demonstrators."

The buildup to Wednesday's march is seeing organisers whip up hostility to the government's approach to higher education on websites like Facebook.

Unlike last year's demo this march is not being organised by the National Union of Students, although it is officially supported by them.

The NCAFC campaign, which is organising the march, said on its website: "With enough of a presence on November 9th, we can force education back onto the agenda this autumn, in the midst of the biggest social movement Britain has seen in decades, and force a U-turn from the government."