Only about 25 students from Kingston University joined the demonstration organised by the National Union of Students on November 21, protesting against the tripling of tuition fees and recent cuts.
Third-year politics and international relation student Francesca Manning, who is also part of the Kingston Education Activist Network said: “It’s very disappointing that so few students turned up. I think the Students’ Union didn’t do enough to advertise the demo. They didn’t give out any flyers or anything.”
“I’m upset they didn’t prioritise the demonstration more,” she added.
The rally came to an early end when a group of protestors crossed the barriers in front of the stage, interrupting the president of the National Union of Students’s speech by grabbing the microphone from out of his hands. Officials turned off the sound and told protestors the protest was finished.
Kingston University students who attended the protest
The students who did turn up from KU were in high spirit with self-made signs dangling from their necks, hoping that the protest would get the government’s attention.
MA philosophy student John Merrick joined the protest because he opposed the education cuts. He knows people who want to do a masters degree but cannot afford do so.
“I oppose the education cuts and cuts in general as well,” he said.
“I worked for two years before starting my masters to save up money. I get no loans and still have to work while studying. Basically, higher education is destroyed by our government.”
Police officers were present throughout the protest, standing on both sides of the roads where the demonstrators marched.
“More people should make the effort to protest”
Kingston University student Hannah Smale, who studies an MA in arts administration and cultural policy, thinks the turn out was much lower than for the protest two years ago and quite disappointing.
She said: “I think higher education should be free and more people should make the effort to protest.”
The National Union of Students said they would be expecting between 5,000 and 10,000 protestors but the actual turnout was lower.
The rain didn’t dampen spirits
Rain was poured down on the protestors the entire time, but they did not let that dampen their spirits.
Miss Manning said: “The Tories say they are trying to solve this crisis. And even if they try it shouldn’t be the students who have to be pay. I’m sick of all the cuts, NHS, living allowance, education. I’m sick of the government and I want them out.”
Except from the ending, the protest was peaceful. Apart from two situations when protestors refused to move for a short time, there was no trouble or violence while the demonstration went on.
The last student protest-turned-riot happened in 2010.
Live blog: “Demo 2012 with Kingston University”