Protests were held across the country on Wednesday with upwards of 35,000 students taking part in demonstrations as the war against education cuts raged on.
In London more than 800 police officers were deployed to control the 10,000 strong protest, “kettling” or containing students. Hundreds of children were detained by police for as many as eight hours.
Kingston University student and Education Activist David Berrie said: “The protest was awful. The police acted disgracefully.”
In the aftermath of the demonstrations, there has been concern over the fact that children as young as 10 were allowed to join in the protests after the march on 10 November turned violent.
One anonymous parent from London posted this comment: “What kind of rubbish parents let their children get involved in this type of thing? After the violence last time what did they expect the police to do? Set up a creche?”
Many under-16s were caught up in the police containment areas and parents were forced to wait anxiously outside the kettled areas until they could be reunited with their children.
Police control also led to the arrest of 35 people following damage to a police van, as well as phone boxes and bus stops.
17 people were injured with 13 requiring hospital treatment. One police officer suffered a broken arm.
But for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), who organised the demonstration, the day had been a “resounding success” and they are planning further large-scale protests.
Kingston’s local demonstration proved highly successful as school, college and university students gathered in their hundreds outside the main building of Penrhyn Road campus.
The union had organised a rally rather than a march after local police refused to back plans for a moving protest. Representatives from the NUS, Education Activist Network, and Mike Roberts, Kingston lecturer and member of the lecturers’ union (the UCU), all gave speeches, which were met with cheers from protestors. Protesters then marched through the town.
Towards the end of the demonstration, a man was arrested after he swore and shouted on a loud hailer.
Elsewhere, thousands of protesters took to the streets or occupied university buildings up and down the country.
It is estimated that 3,000 people turned out to protest in Manchester, with a group of demonstrators staging an “indefinite” sit-in in a university lecture theatre.
The group told reporters that they are in “solidarity with all those who will be affected by these fees, as well as others who are engaged in acts of protest.”
In Birmingham, University Officials were forced to cancel an open day amid fears of unrest and disruption to the visitors’ experience. Police officers were posted to the building for the day to ensure safety remained the university’s “main priority”.
The Birmingham students took over the university’s Great Hall for a sit-in, during which they unveiled a banner which called for the resignation of their Vice-Chancellor.
University students in Plymouth employed a similar strategy. They occupied a room and gave their Vice-Chancellor a list of demands. The students’ union at the university has been very vocal, and has declared that “the massive hike in tuition fees is disgusting”.
Students in Aberystwyth choose to hold seminars and lectures outside, despite the chilling temperatures. This move was part of the town’s newly launched first free University of Aberystwyth, established in response to the cuts.
A third day of protests has been scheduled by the NCAFC for Tuesday 30 November, calling on all students and lecturers to once again demonstrate locally.