Students protest over UK tuition fees hike

29th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Thousands of students took to the streets of London and Manchester on Saturday to protest against the government's hiking of tuition fees at English universities.

Previous such protests over the past two months have descended into violence and police handed out leaflets in London informing protestors about their right to demonstrate and what to do if trouble flared.

Last month student demonstrators went on a rampage through London once again as the government narrowly won a parliamentary vote on raising tuition fees as much as threefold.

While the rally in London was initially peaceful, the protest in Manchester, northwest England, saw scuffles between demonstrators and police.

About 150 campaigners broke off from the agreed march route and tried to enter the University of Manchester Students' Union. They were barred by police officers as scuffles broke out.

Up to 5,000 people gathered in a park earlier to listen to speeches from trade union leaders.

The government has embarked on a programme of tax rises and spending cuts in a bid to rein in Britain's giant budget deficit.

Emma Bates, 17, from Greenhead College in Huddersfield, northern England, was among those at the Manchester rally.

"We are not going to take all these government cuts lying down. The only way of doing that is by protesting," she said.

In a statement, universities minister David Willetts said the reforms were "fairer than the present system and affordable for the nation.

"No student will be asked to pay upfront costs, there will be more financial support for poorer students and those who go on to earn the highest incomes will make the largest contributions after they have graduated."

From 2012, the cap on annual tuition fees at English universities will rise to 6,000 pounds (9,500 dollars, 7,000 euros), with an upper limit of 9,000 pounds. The current cap is 3,290 pounds.

© 2011 AFP

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