Thousands of students took to the streets of London Saturday in the latest protest against tuition fee hikes. The march was meant to end at the ruling Conservative Party’s headquarters, but protesters proceeded to the Egyptian embassy.
In the first major demonstrations since late last year, thousands of students in London and the northern English city of Manchester took to the streets protesting the Conservative-led coalition government’s hike in university tuition fees.
Drawn up as part of a massive austerity overhaul, the reform will require students at English universities to pay as much as 9,000 pounds (10,000 euros) per year for their studies, up from 3,290 pounds.
‘Destroying a generation’
The government has said it will use the increased fees - starting in 2012 - to cover massive cuts to the higher education budget. Students only start paying back their debt once they earn over 21,000 pounds a year.
The march was supposed to end on Millbank, a central London street where the ruling Conservative Party’s headquarters are located. However, the entrance to the building was blocked by security after last year’s protests ended in violent clashes between protesters and police.
Lacking direction, protesters began to trail off in various directions. Antonia Bright, from the London-based civil rights group Movement for Justice, complained of a lack of momentum. “It felt powerful in previous protests. [What we’ve seen] today communicates that people are quieter now.”
But because large numbers of Egyptians had joined the protests to voice their discontent with their own government, many then headed to the Egyptian embassy near the Conservative Party headquarters.
The Egyptians certainly didn’t seem to mind. One protester, when asked if he was happy to unite with thousands of angry students, grinned and shouted, “We’re happy to have support from anybody!”
In pictures: Thousands of students hit London streets to protest against fee hikes
Thousands of students took to the streets in London on Saturday, protesting the government’s planned tuition fee hikes. There were many banners on display, but this one was a street favourite. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
A familiar face on London protests, he has "love" and "peace" painted on his shoes. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
Drums, loudspeakers and even trumpets were employed to make as much noise as possible. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
Sixth-form college students who will be directly affected by the reform. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
Flares were set off midway through the protest. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
Stencils were plastered on road signs, walls, and here, a traffic cone. (Photos: Sophie Pilgrim)
Date created : 2011-01-30