Protest in Britain over tution fee hike turns violent

November 10th, 2010 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron London, Nov 10 (IANS) Protests in Britain over the government’s plan to raise tution fees in universities turned violent Wednesday as demonstrators marched towards parliament, damaging buildings and clashing with security personnel.

A group barged into the lobby of Millbank Tower near the headquarters of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Tory party before being forced out by police, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Windows in the office block were smashed and a number of smoke bombs thrown. Dozens of police surrounding the entrance were pelted with water bottles and jostled by the protesters.

Up to 50,000 people, many waving placards, are marching though the streets of London in the biggest show of opposition to the coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Students from across the country travelled to London in coaches, to join lecturers, pensioners and medical trainees in voicing their opposition to the rise.

Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), warned the Liberal Democrats they would lose the support of a generation of young people if they continued to back the tuition fee hike.

“MPs must now think twice before going ahead with this outrageous policy,” he said.

Under the government’s proposals, which represent the most radical shake-up of student funding for decades, the fee cap will be raised to 6,000 pounds, with universities able to charge up to 9,000 pounds - triple the current cap - in “exceptional circumstances”.

David Cameron, who is in China on a two-day trade mission, said Wednesday that the rise in fees for British undergraduates would help “control” growth in costs for foreigners attending British universities.

The proposed changes to university funding are politically explosive as many Liberal Democrat MPs, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, pledged during the general election campaign not to allow fees to go up.

Clegg came under attack for his U-turn over increasing tuition fees as he stood in for David Cameron Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions in the parliament.

Clegg said: “This is an extraordinarily difficult issue and I have been entirely open about the fact that we have not been able to deliver the policy that we held in opposition. Because of the financial situation, because of the compromises of the coalition government we have had to put forward a different policy.”

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