UEA students join London protest calling for free education

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in We

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in Westminster, London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A coach load of students from the UEA took part in today's protest in London against tuition fees and the abolition of the student maintenance grant.

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in We

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in Westminster, London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Most of the hundreds of demonstrators were peaceful, but a number turned violent as the march passed Government buildings.

The trouble flared when the protest came to a stop outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Dozens of officers from the Metropolitan Police Territorial Support Group moved in and clashed with some demonstrators clad in black and with scarves covering their faces.

Some let off flares and one was thrown towards police.

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in We

Students during a protest calling for the abolition of tuition fees and an end to student debt in Westminster, London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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Chris Jarvis, campaigns and democracy officer at the Union of UEA Students, said 35 UEA students attended the demonstration.

He said: 'We saw a couple of smoke bombs but it went largely without incident. The vast majority of the demonstration was without any of that thing.

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'I think the march was a real success. As is often the case, we were a little unlucky with the weather, but turnout was great and everyone was in high spirits.'

Last week students held a demonstration on the UEA campus to protest about the abolition of the maintenance grant, and Mr Jarvis said UEA students would hold another rally on December 12, to coincide with the National Union of Students lobbying MPs in Westminster.

Earlier, shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the Government of 'betraying' students as he addressed the crowd.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also threw his support behind the protesters by demanding the abolition of tuition fees in a statement read out at the rally.

Thousands of students had braved the rain to attend the demonstration calling for the end of fees, the return of maintenance grants and an end to student debt.

At present, full-time UK students from families with annual household incomes of £25,000 or less qualify for maintenance grants of £3,387 a year, with smaller amounts awarded according to income.

But under the changes, which come into force in the next academic year, these grants will be replaced by loans which students would start paying back when they earn more than £21,000 a year.

A BIS spokesman said: 'This Government is committed to ensuring everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their background.

'It has always been the case that student support provided by government is a contribution to living costs, and institutions themselves offer a range of bursaries, scholarships and grants.

'Our system means that lack of finance should not be a barrier to participation and more funding is available to support living costs than ever before.'

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