IPSWICH: Students condemn Westminster violence
UNIVERISTY Campus Suffolk (UCS) students have criticised the riotous minority who brought disorder to a national demonstration in London against plans to treble tuition fees.
Hundreds were evacuated from the Tory Party headquarters when the march turned ugly yesterday.
Placard-waving demonstrators clashed with police after smashing their way into Millbank Tower in central London and lighting a fire where other protesters were due to gather for the rally.
An estimated 50,000 students and lecturers took part in the demonstration against government plans to cut university funding and charge students up to �9,000 per year in tuition fees from 2012.
Under the proposals, announced by universities minister David Willetts, the fee cap will be raised to �6,000, with universities able to charge up to �9,000 in “exceptional circumstances”.
More than 100 students from UCS took part in yesterday’s rally organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU).
None were said to be involved in the violence, which broke out after the UCS group had passed Millbank Tower.
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Andy Speed, president of the student-led UCS Union, said: “We didn’t see what happened.
“There was lots of lobbying and banner waving, then things obviously turned sour as a result of what we see as bad planning.
“It involved a very small number of people, who we don’t know were students, with an entirely different motive.
“It leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth and detracted from the real reason we were there.”
UCS students also signed hundreds of postcards addressed to local politicians, asking them to vote against the proposals in Parliament, and some students yesterday met with Ipswich MP Ben Gummer to air their objections.
The money gained from increased fees, which currently stand at �3,290 a year, will go towards plugging the gap left by cuts to the higher education teaching budget, announced in the Government’s spending review. Tuition fees currently stand at �3,290 a year.
The proposed changes also include the abolition of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) – a �30 weekly benefit paid to poor students – to be replaced by an alternative system.