Poll: Should student tuition fees be scrapped, cut or raised?

Students marching from University of East Anglia. PIC: Peter Walsh

Students marching from University of East Anglia. PIC: Peter Walsh - Credit: Archant

More than 30 students took part in a 'march for free education' in Norwich this weekend - should tuition fees be scrapped?

Students gathered in the Square at the University of East Anglia (UEA) ahead of the march to the offices of Norwich South MP Simon Wright where they held a demonstration.

But on Monday, university leaders wrote to The Times warning that Labour plans to cut tuition fees to £6,000 a year from £9,000 risked 'colossal damage' to universities.

The Norwich march was part of a national demonstration by the Defend Education group on a 'day of action' for free education with students across the country protesting University tuition fees, reforms to the DSA, as well as salary and pension cuts in the education sectors.

Placard-waving protesters sett off from the UEA at just after noon and were hoping to reach Mr Wright's offices in Duoro Place, off Dereham Road, by about 2pm where speakers, including Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, Lesley Grahame, were due to address the crowd.

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Josh Wilson, 20, a third-year student at the UEA, who was one of those due to speak at the event, said ahead of the march that they were fighting for free education and against Disability Support Allowance (DSA) cuts.

He said: 'I think its important that students all over the country are getting involved and starting to build the student movement again.' Defend Education have created a list of demands for their campaign, primarily requesting that the government recognise Higher Education as a beneficial public service, that deserves increased funding. The movement aims to scrap the current £9000 tuition fees, increase funding for Undergraduate and Postgraduate study and reversing many of the governmental cuts already in place, such as those to the National Scholarship Programme and the restrictions and charges placed upon international students.

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Further demands include challenging proposed cuts to the Disability Support Allowance, which are set to be enacted September this year, criticised for potentially increasing drop-out rates and declining grades. Defend Education also want to readdress the student loan systems, which do not fully cover living costs and tackle the increased privatisation and marketing of universities.

Saturday's demonstration is part of an annual event, with many universities expected to march across the country repeating protests of 2014, which saw over 60 university campuses united in the 'Day of Action'. Defend Education saw a positive impact previously with the activities of last year, alongside parliamentary lobbyists and a national campaign successfully forcing the government to reconsider the privatisation of the student loan book.

• Additional reporting by Jonathan Horvath

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