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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Activists held in tuition fee demos

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A protester scuffles with police officers during a march by students against university fees

More than 140 activists have been arrested after refusing to leave a demonstration against deeply unpopular plans to ramp up student tuition fees.

Police said 146 demonstrators were arrested after a group of protesters refused to leave Trafalgar Square at the end of the demonstration in London.

Thousands of young people incensed by the threat of substantial debts at the end of their time at university took to the streets.

The vast majority took part in peaceful marches, occupations and vigils as MPs debated the potential impact of the changes in Westminster. However, Scotland Yard said it had arrested 153 people on Tuesday.

A police spokesman said after numerous requests from the police for the group to disperse from Trafalgar Square, 139 people were arrested for breach of the peace and seven on suspicion of violent disorder. Earlier in the day, two people were arrested for public order offences, one for common assault, one was arrested for obstructing police and three people were arrested for criminal damage.

During the protest, a police officer and a female protester both received head injuries and were taken to hospital. A police spokesman said that at this stage, neither of the injuries are thought to be serious. It is thought they were hit by missiles thrown over the crowd.

In Bristol, 10 people were arrested as police were pelted with mustard when thousands of students from both universities in the city marched.

Demonstrations, marches, occupations and vigils also took place in Cambridge, Brighton, Newcastle, Bath, Nottingham and Cardiff.

MPs are expected to vote before Christmas on the Government’s proposals to increase the cap on tuition fees from £3,375 to as much as £9,000 a year.

Also on Tuesday, Business Secretary Vince Cable signalled he may abstain when the Commons is asked to approve the tuition fees rise he is pushing through. Under pressure for reneging on a pre-election pledge to oppose any rise in fees, he said he was prepared to sit out the vote on his own policy if other Liberal Democrat MPs did the same.

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