Students’ placards at the protest today
The student protests against tuition fees passed peacefully today, in stark contrast to last year’s event. Only 2,000 students, a quarter of the 10,000 expected, gathered at the University of London union this afternoon. They continued their march through the city and financial district of the capital, with a small group breaking away and setting up tents in Trafalgar Square; which was later moved on.
Around 4,000 police officers kept firm control of the march throughout its duration, although they faced controversy earlier this week by saying they may use plastic bullets in “extreme circumstances”.
It is believed that 24 people have been arrested over the course of the day, with 12 of these being for charges on breaches of the peace.
The organisers of the protest, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, are fighting soaring tuition fees and privatisation of the education system.
Protesters carried placards with slogans such as “Education not business”, “Free education” and “Education for the masses, not just for the ruling classes”.
The heavy presence of the police at the march was no doubt a precautionary measure in light of last year’s protest, when a group of protesters smashed their way into the conservative headquarters at Millbank, whilst others attacked the royal convoy.