Anger spills over in student protest against tuition fees hike

By agency reporter
11 Nov 2010

The National Union of Students has condemned the violent actions of "rogue protestors" as undermining an otherwise peaceful tuition fees protest yesterday.

NUS President Aaron Porter called the scenes "despicable", but said that the main message of the demonstration should not be forgotten in the midst of the media attention on the attack on Conservative Party HQ in London, in the midst of angry scenes.

Other students however have signed a statement in solidarity with those arrested, rejecting "any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, 'extremist' or unrepresentative" of the campaign.

Around 50,000 students, lecturers and members of the general public took part in what is being labelled as the biggest student demonstration in a generation, jointly organised by NUS and the University and College Union (UCU).

The march covered a route pre-approved by police from Horse Guards Avenue to a rally outside the Tate Britain where protestors heard from the UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, the NUS president Aaron Porter and the TUC deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady.

At a rally on Milbank outside the Tate Britain, protestors heard from UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, NUS president Aaron Porter and TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, told demonstrators: "I am here today to send a message to the politicians at Westminster. It isn't fair to make our public universities the most expensive in the world. It isn't progressive to discourage young people from going to college. And it isn't just to ask the next generation to pay for others' mistakes. Over the next four years while college grants are cut and tuition fees triple, big business will get £8 billion in tax giveaways from the government."

She added: "Some in our government seem to think they can spin their way out of their election commitments. So far they've called the increase in the cost of university everything but what it is. They've called it a fee, a tax, a loan and now a contribution. But the simple truth is it's not any of those things. It's a debt. A civilised society recognises the importance of education. It's time for politicians to recognise that education is an investment in all our futures not a millstone around our necks."

NUS President Aaron Porter told the crowd: "We have taken to the streets of London in unprecedented numbers today on the biggest student demonstration this century to tell politicians that enough is enough. We will not tolerate the previous generation passing on its debts to the next, nor will we pick up an eye-watering bill to access a college and university education that was funded for them.

"I will tell you today that we will not tolerate politicians' broken promises. We will not tolerate them pulling up the drawbridge on the next [generation], denying our brothers and sisters the opportunity to study at college or university."

"This Government is abdicating its responsibility to fund the education and skills provision we desperately need just as every other country is investing in its future. We cannot and will not accept that miserable vision for our future. These short-sighted and self-defeating cuts to colleges and universities must be resisted, they will be resisted, and that resistance begins today," the student leader declared.

[Ekk/3]

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