Students Protest Against Tuition Fees in London

10 Dec

London faced its most violent protests in decades yesterday, as students from across England gathered to show their anger over the increase in university tuition fees.

It was a momentous day in British politics, as, whilst clashes between students and police grew in Parliament Square, politicians inside Parliament debated the proposed increase in fees for over five hours before voting in favour of the change.

The vote means that UK based students can now be charged up to £9,000 per year (increased from just over £3,000) to study at an English university, meaning many will be left with huge debts after they graduate. The proposal created huge rifts within the British political parties, and many MPs voted against their own party’s wishes. However, the real clashes were most definitely outside.

Throughout the morning, tens of thousands of university and school students gathered in London, ready to march through the city protesting the proposed changes. There was a huge police presence ready and expecting the peaceful crowd to turn violent at some point.

This point was reached in the afternoon, when the protesters met police barriers in Parliament Square. The crowds tried to surge forward towards the Parliament buildings, but were met by riot police and officers on horseback.

Violent clashes between the opposing sides then broke out as protestors began to throw paint, snooker balls and broken bits of concrete, and the police responded with their batons. At points police on horseback were used to push the protestors back, and eventually the situation calmed down.

As darkness fell, protestors spread to other parts of London, and attacked the flagship Topshop store on Oxford Street due to its owner’s well known tax evasion. Soon after this, events took an unexpected turn when Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were caught up in the protests in the nearby Regents Street. They were travelling to a royal event, and their car was attacked with paint and missiles, leaving a window smashed and the royals visible shaken.

Ultimately, the results of this historic day of politics were the approval of the increase in university tuition fees, and the resignation of three politicians. Meanwhile, the results of the protests were 22 arrests, 10 police officers and dozens of students injured, and widespread devastation across Westminster.

The main message we want to send to you is that this type of protests are very very rare and should certainly not be anything to worry about. No one was there who didn’t want to be and the vast majority of the area of London was safe throughout the whole event.

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