Protesters have gathered to highlight the effects of public spending cuts on young people.
Students, lecturers and unions came out in force in Manchester to hear claims the Government was “betraying” an entire generation.
Around 150 protesters broke off from the agreed march route and headed towards the city centre, chanting for the removal of NUS president Aaron Porter from office. Police walked alongside, with some taking photographs.
Campaigners attempted to gain entry into the University of Manchester Students’ Union building but were barred by a line of officers as minor scuffles broke out.
They had shouted: “Students, workers, hear our shout! We want Aaron Porter out!” Anti-Conservative jeers were also sung as the splinter group rejoined the march to the rally.
The protest march attended by thousands began peacefully and was escorted by mounted police. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people gathered in Platt Fields Park
to listen to the speakers. No arrests have been made and there have been no reports of any major disorder, police said.
Mr Porter did not speak at the rally – it is understood NUS leaders made the decision, although police sources said he would have been asked if he thought it a good idea to appear in public.
Earlier, missiles – including eggs and oranges – were thrown on stage at Shane Chowen, NUS vice president for further education. He quickly left the platform to a chorus of boos from sections of the crowd when he told them: “The majority of students are behind the NUJ and UCU (University and College Union). We are fighting on your behalf.”
Labour MP for Manchester Central Tony Lloyd said to the audience: “We are fighting for the future of young persons in my impoverished city. Not throwing eggs but fighting for people. Ordinary people deserve better than splitting our movement.”
Thousands of students also gathered in central London to protest against Government cuts and university fee hikes.