UK Hit by Second Wave of Student Protests

26 Nov

Students turned out in their thousands again this week to protest the proposed increases in tuition fees, and again it was small pockets of violence that made the headlines in the UK.

After the protests two weeks ago, the police were on high alert when it was announced that students were going to march through London again on Wednesday. This mainly peaceful march broke out into violence when a police van was attacked and protesters tried to break through police lines.

The clashes in London led to 32 arrests and 17 people hurt, with the attack on the police van a particular point of contention. Demonstrators have accused police of purposefully abandoning the van as ‘bait’ for the protestors to attack. It was claimed the media coverage of the ensuing attack has worked to undermine the protest. One rioter who took part in the march said:

“The police van was a complete set up, conveniently planted right in the middle of the street with no police anywhere near it”.

The police of course deny such allegations and say it was simply the case that

‘The officers felt vulnerable and decided the best course of action was to leave the van’.

A further story that has emerged from the attacks on the police van is of a group of school girls forming a protective human circle around the van to stop protestors trying to overturn the vehicle. Zoe Williams, one of the school girls, explained:

“I was just trying to get across to them that the cause that we’re here for today isn’t about ‘I hate the police, I want to burn the police and I want to destroy everything they represent’.”

It wasn’t just in London that students were voicing their unhappiness, as across the rest of the country there were other peaceful protests. Over Wednesday and Thursday, students took over lecture theatres and university buildings in 10 universities, including Edinburgh, UCL, Cardiff and Newcastle. One of the most high profile ‘sit ins’ was at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where dozens of students stormed the building and danced on tables.

The various forms of protest look set to continue over the Christmas period, as the government shows no signs of backing down over the planned increase to tuition fees. We will keep you right up to date with all the latest news on this matter, so make sure you check the blog regularly.

Read about the first set of protests here, and learn how the proposed increase in fees will affect international students here.

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