Students launch peaceful protest

Thursday 25th November 2010

    By Matthew Edwards, Swindon Advertiser

    MORE than 100 students stormed out of lessons at New College yesterday as thousands of students descended on London to demonstrate against hikes to tuition fees.

    About 140 people quit lessons at 11am yesterday and protested outside the entrance of the college waving placards before marching around the site chanting against the Government.

    Richard Dean, 17, who organised the protests at New College, said: “We are angry at these education cuts and we will not accept them without a fight, it’s disgusting. We are extremely angry at Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems who have gone back on a promise and have stabbed a lot of students who voted for them in the back.

    If one person or one college walks out then it is not going to have an impact but if every college and school walks out then Cameron is going to have a problem.

    These cuts hit the poorest hardest, when it come to education everyone should have the same opportunities.

    I think it is great that we have more than a 100 people here it’s a credit to all the students and the power of Facebook.”

    Richard is in the process of applying for university at the moment and was at the protests in London two weeks ago.

    He said:

    It was amazing, I know the violence got all the headlines but that was only a minority. We can’t afford to go to London every time, so we thought we would hold something here to show our support.”

    Although police turned up, the protests passed peacefully.

    PC Gemma Vinton said: “We’ve just come along to make sure everyone is well behaved and nothing gets out of hand, and as you can see it is all passing off peacefully.”

    The college has about 3,500 students aged between 16 and 19 and staff were pleased with the manner in which the protests were carried out Marketing manager Amanda Walton said: “We’re maintaining a fairly neutral stance on the protests, but we won’t discipline anyone who was involved because they are well within their rights to protest.

    As a college we’re doing what we can to help the students and provide a viable alternative to university. Staff were aware that some students might walk out of the lesson and most of the staff were fairly tolerant. A lot of lessons were finishing early anyway due to an open evening, so a lot of people were leaving the college anyway, but we are pleased it all went relatively peacefully.”

    Thousands of students protested in London again yesterday over plans to increase tuition fees in England to £9,000 a year and to withdraw public funding for university teaching budgets for many subjects.

    They gathered in the capital at Trafalgar Square before marching past Downing Street toward the Houses of Parliament.

    But they were stopped by lines of police in Whitehall before the demonstration had reached Parliament Square.

    As well as the march in London students across England staged a day of action with sit-ins, occupations and walk-outs at universities and colleges. Some pupils also staged protests at schools.

    Mixed opinions in the classroom

    Not all the students were impressed by the manner in which the protest were held.

    Sam Goding, 16, said: “I’m all for protesting against the education cuts but this isn’t productive. They are protesting but at the same time losing out by not being in lessons. Most people don’t even know what they are protesting about.”

    Hannah Cole, 17, said: “David Cameron is not here and not listening to what they have to say. It is a waste of time with a lot of them just getting involved because they think it is a bit of fun. Police are here as well, they are just wasting their time.”

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