21 November 2012 Last updated at 11:14 ET

Students' protest march

Key Points

  • This march marks the second anniversary of the tuition fees demonstration which saw clashes between protesters and police.
  • The demonstration is an attempt to put students back on to the political agenda.
  • The protest march in central London passef near parliament and ended with rally in Kennington Park.
  • The National Union of Students is concerned about the lack of job opportunities for young people.

    Good morning. Welcome to our live coverage of demonstrations by students in central London. Thousands of people are expected to join the protest march from the Embankment to raise concerns about a number of issues, including the impact of higher student fees, the loss of the education maintenance allowance and the lack of job opportunities.


    To coincide with the protest, the National Union of Students (NUS) has published a survey which suggests voters have not forgiven MPs who broke election promises over raising fees.

    Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, who promised to vote against raising tuition fees, has been a particular target for student anger.


    Two years ago this month a protest against tuition fees saw angry clashes between protesters and police.


    NUS UKtweets: Did someone order LOADS of placards? #behindthescenes #demo2012 pic.twitter.com/tsDUEYGB


    The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says government reforms have made the university system "fairer and more progressive".

    A spokeswoman said students, like other citizens, had the right to "participate in peaceful protest".


    The mainstream demonstration by the NUS is expected to be joined by a separate feeder march by the more radical National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

    This group has challenged the route agreed with the police for protesters.

    1124: Will Coldwell

    tweets: How many people are going to show up for #demo2012? Get your bets in now

    1127: Luke Walton Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets Set off to Embankment to report on #demo2012 and it's stopped raining - have mini black umbrella just in case...

    1127: The Independent's Kevin Rawlinson

    tweets: Officer now telling #demo2012 they'll be committing an offence by leaving route. March sets off.

    1132: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    says police are lining up alongside the demonstrators, but the mood so far is relaxed.

    The numbers so far look much lower than the huge tuition fees protests of 2010.

    students on march

    Students are gathering at the Embankment for the start of the march.

    1140: Annabelle Turner, Bristol

    emails: Broken promises. 20% youth unemployment. High risk of graduate unemployment. Bad times for students and those treading the line to university. Even if you have not been hit by the 9k fees there are younger siblings, relatives and friends who will be. This NEEDS to be acted on by our Government.

    1140: Ben Fisher, Community Officer at Leeds University Union

    tweets: We're here today to tell the government that their policies are nowhere near good enough; that we need a real alternative #demo2012

    1141: Imogen Hill

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay @UniversityLeeds just about to leave our coaches and walk over to the Embankment #Demo2012


    Speaking at the start of the march, NUS president Liam Burns said he expected a "positive" event which would send a message about young people's concerns about protecting access to education.

    Mr Burns forecast "thousands" would join the protest.

    student protestor

    One protestor has a personal messge for the prime minister.


    More on the survey by the NUS of almost 500 parents: Three out of five of those questioned say they would not vote for an MP who broke a pre-election pledge to vote against increasing tuition fees, while almost half believed that they should resign.

    1151: Reeta Chakrabarti Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Am being told by Leeds Uni to point out that it's not just about fees. Indeed it isn't - also scrapping of EMAs and youth unemployment.

    NUS march poster

    The NUS has designed a poster to mark the demonstration.

    1152: Joshua Bull

    tweets: The crowd is getting restless...think we're about to start moving! #demo2012

    1157: Reeta Chakrabarti Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: At NUS demo where students gathering. Good-humoured at the mo. Numbers always hard but probably in the thousands

    Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    says the march will start in 15 minutes.

    1206: Louis Williams, Cambridge

    emails: : I am not participating in the march because funnily enough a Wednesday is a day where I have lectures and supervisions, so I need to work. They should be marching on a weekend.

    1206: Matthew Brown, President of the @UWELabour Society

    tweets: Getting interviewed for random student magazines. Members impressed by me, so it can't have gone too badly! :) #HappyPresident


    Some of today's protesters are angered by the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in England last year.

    The grant, worth up to £30 a week, was aimed at low-income 16 to 19-year-olds to help them stay on in education.

    1211: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: Students begin their march on London's Embankment. Chants, banners and placards on a grey drizzly day.

    1214: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: About 5,000 students expected to begin march, according to organisers. No confirmed numbers.


    Some of the marchers joining today's protests are concerned about high rates of youth unemployment.

    Official figures from the Department for Education show one in six 16 to 24-year-olds in England were not in education, employment or training at the end of June this year.

    1215: Lucy Schofield

    tweets: on a wild goose chase round London trying to catch up with the student protest. befriended an old american lady on the way

    1216: The Independent's Kevin Rawlinson

    tweets: Officers ordered to stop anyone turning right as we approach Aldwych - towards Trafalgar and Parliament Squares. We'll see... #demo2012

    1217: Ryan Hamilton, Liverpool John Moore's University

    tweets: Student mass protest in London http://gu.com/p/3cxg6 Youth unemployment a major issue Government and professions must address #Demo2012

    protest march

    The student demonstration makes its way down the Embankment.

    1225: Edward Manning, St Neots

    emails: I think education is becoming far too expensive! It's for learning, not for pure leisure! Education costs are stopping people for learning!

    1228: The Independent's Kevin Rawlinson

    tweets: We've halted within sight of the main NUS march coming along the Embankment. #demo2012. Feeder march is split into two.

    1229: Raymond Hopkins, Finland

    emails: Whatever the parrot cry of 'not having to pay up front' the fact remains that the debt remains. Is a debt ridden nation of young adults really what the country needs? Truly, education will be only for the wealthy. There will be a price to be paid for that.


    Students in Northern Ireland have gathered in Belfast for a protest at 1300 GMT against planned cutbacks to the Education Maintenance Allowance.

    Adrianne Peltz, president of the NUS-Union of Students in Ireland, said: "To cut EMA to the level outlined in the recent consultation would be a body blow to this and future generations here."

    1236: George Henton

    tweets: Atmosphere at back of the march along Embankment tense. More aggressive. Masses of police #demo2012

    1239: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: What does a protest sound like? Loudhailer chants, whistles and helicopters. Most of all helicopters.

    1240: Jennifer, Bristol

    emails: Too many people go to university with no clear idea of what they want to do. Upon leaving they struggle to find work and do not contribute back to the system. I went to University at 22, upon graduating it took me two years to find a job and nothing in the field I am educated for. Surely it is better for university to be means tested on aptitude and ability to feed back to the system. The country should not be paying for drifters to waste four years studying.

    1241: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    says the march is making its way slowly along the Embankment towards Westminster, with the police closing off side roads along route.

    "It's a noisy but good humoured march so far, with whistles and chants mixing with the sound of helicopters circling above."

    1241: James, London

    emails: Perhaps Cameron, Osborne and Clegg could offer the exchequer £27,000 each as a show of understanding seeing as they got their education for free. Seems fair, do you think they'd do it?

    1242: Annabel Charles, Cambridge

    emails: I am not taking part in the march but my student son is - and I fully support him. How can we call ourselves a developed country when we are not prepared to fund education and invest to create jobs for young people?

    There is some justification for increasing fees - but not by such a huge amount and so quickly. This is neither fair not progressive and will lead to greater social divisions in England.


    Michael Chessum, from the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts, says the student demonstration is about a "failure of the political system".

    He says today's NUS route is "slightly weak...this should be a march on parliament".

    "We are not allowed to look the politicians in the eye".

    1249: Neil M.

    tweets: Re: student protest in London - go get a job and stop spongeing.


    The average cost of tuition fees in England for the current academic year 2012/13 is £8,414. But the Office for Fair Access predicts fees for 2013/14 will rise to an average of £8,507.


    Tuition fees in England rose to up a maximum of £9,000 a year from the academic year 2012/13. The previous year, 2011/12, the most universities in England were allowed to charge was £3,375 a year in tuition fees.

    1305: Amir Mosalaneghad, London

    emails: It's the very height of irony. As an A-level student - a student sitting in his school library right now, doing his French work, I can't even begin to comprehend the counter-productivity of these marches. I'm not a big fan of the government's educational policies either, but to protest at a time like this is akin to burning what clothes you have in order to protest the lack of jackets in winter.

    1305: Robbie Wojciechowski

    tweets: March is working way down Embankment, police have loosened up a bit, but there's a massive cordon waiting in front of Parliament #demo2012

    1307: Reeta Chakrabarti Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: One group surged forward at Westminster to confront police. Shouting but no violence

    1309: Reeta Chakrabarti Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Another group now crowding round police barrier stopping them getting into Parly Sq

    1313: Luke Walton Education reporter, BBC News

    tweets: Gaza, Clegg, fees, cuts, Cameron, free education ... All get a mention on the placards at today's student demo in London #demo2012

    police on march outside Parliament

    A police cordon is stopping protesters from entering Parliament Square.

    1314: Ron Boardman, Bedford

    emails: My son is not on the march and probably doesn't even know there is one. Why? Because he is studying phyisics and hardly ever gets a day off, even at weekends. I can't help but wonder what some of the protestors are studying!

    1314: Oli, Coventry

    emails: I am one of many hundreds of thousands of students who are NOT taking part in this march. My main gripe is that we appear to have forgotten somewhere along the line that all good things come at a price. Tuition fees are a fair agreement between the state and it's students - the aim of uni is to get people into a decently paid job, and if it doesn't do this, you don't have to pay it back. For all the talk about 27k of debt, yes, it is sizeable, but if you earn 21k straight out of uni you can afford to pay it back anyway so what's all the fuss?

    1316: Luke Walton Education reporter, BBC News

    tweets: Part of the march is still standing next to the police line at Big Ben, noisy but no sign of trouble from where I'm standing#demo2012

    1318: Reeta Chakrabarti Education correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Anti capitalist group, some masked, chanting outside parliament, refusing to move on. Some pushing and shoving, no violence


    The protesters are continuing to march through the streets of London under dull, rainy skies.

    1319: Rachel, York

    emails: In response to the opinion that 'too many drifters go to university'. Despite being a straight A student, knowing what I want to do as a career and getting into top UK universities, the £9000 a year fees would have definitely put me off! I come from an unashamedly working class background and there is no way I could even consider that sort of money, £3,500 is pushing it as it is. Unfortunately my parents, like so many others, can't afford to give me anything which leaves me working alongside studying.

    1319: The Independent's Kevin Rawlinson

    tweets: Front of #demo2012 - the main NUS march has headed over Westminster Bridge. Yet to see what feeder march further back does


    The marchers are heading for a rally in Kennington Park, in Lambeth, at 1400 GMT. The rally is scheduled to finish at 1500 GMT.

    1329: Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News

    Estimates from the organisers put numbers on the march in the low thousands, a sharp contrast to the demonstration two years ago, when 50,000 people took to the streets.

    The bad weather may have played a part, but the numbers no doubt reflect some resignation among students over higher fees. Students beginning courses this autumn were the first to pay fees of up to £9,000 a year, after fees in England's universities rose.


    In Belfast a demonstration over cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance in Northern Ireland coincides with the student march in London.

    1333: Pearl, Portsmouth

    emails: I went on the first protests, two years ago when EMA was cut and when it came out that Mr Clegg had betrayed his voters. People reacted so negatively to the violence caused by maybe 500 out of the 80,000+ that attended that the whole reason we were there was overlooked by the press.

    Since then, I personally have dropped out of college because of financial reasons and many of my other friends have been left in the same position. The saddest part for me is that i was an A* student, but I had to work 37 hours a week outside of college because of the costs that education now builds.

    1333: Dave McLaughlin

    tweets: Seems like some of the students are planning to settle in for the time being at Westminster Bridge #demo2012

    1334: James Harris, Folkestone

    emails: I'm looking at this live text whilst at my current job in a pub. I left uni with £18000 (tuition fee loan for 3 years and 3 years maintainence loans) worth of debts. But with no jobs on the horizon it is hard to pay it back. I feel worse for these students who will cone out with so much more debt; and even less guarantee of a job

    1334: Ian, London

    emails: What's wrong with paying for extra services yourself, or borrowing? I want to get a new car, I don't need one but I would like a new one. I will probably take out a car loan, or perhaps I should demand that the rich and large organisations pay for it. Ridiculous.

    1334: Sarah Firth, Russia Today

    tweets: #FREEGAZA sign carried through the streets of London as part of the student march today #demo2012 (null)

    1338: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: Knot of protestors back against police barriers by Parliament. Might look dramatic in pics but fair bit of posturing.

    1340: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    says: "There's a stand off outside Parliament, against police lines that are closing off Parliament Square. Most of the march has moved over Westminster Bridge, but perhaps a few hundred are pressing up against police lines, waving banners and shouting."

    1340: Amanda Way, London

    emails: "My main gripe is that we appear to have forgotten somewhere along the line that all good things come at a price". Lucky that you can afford to go in the first place. What about the thousands of poor students who want to go to university, but cannot afford to even study for their A' Levels because the EMA was scrapped?

    1341: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: Best student protest banner so far: "Down with that sort of thing" Quite.

    1342: Kish, Leicester

    emails: People need to be realistic about job opportunities after a degree. Doing an oversubscribed course for an oversubscribed profession is not value for your money.

    1344: Luke Walton Education reporter, BBC News

    tweets: Looks like crowd moving away from Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge ie march resuming.. #demo2012

    1353: Luisa Baldini BBC News

    says: "It has been fairly calm. The NUS has been working with Metropolitan police in the hope that this will be a calm event."

    She said the rally due to take place in Kennington Park, in south London, would take place later than planned because protesters were delayed at Westminster.


    The National Union of Teachers has added its support to the demonstration, saying young people are at the sharp end of the coalition government's austerity cuts.

    General Secretary Christine Blower said: "Our young people are our society's future. We need to develop their skills and education for the benefits reaped, not just by themselves but for society as a whole."


    Students on the march tell the BBC the government reforms to higher education are unfair and put young people off studying for a degree.

    1354: Tania

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Student finance wont wait till u start earning 21k they will start asking for money as soon as u start work.

    1355: Anna Armitage, Dusseldorf, Germany

    emails: Supporting #Demo2012 today from abroad. Whilst it's both an honour and pleasure to study at a foreign university, UK students should not have to do this in order to afford an education. The government should be ashamed that some young British citizens are having to leave the country for the chance to study at university level and find employment.

    1355: Neil

    emails: There's dedication for you. A little bit of rain and suddenly the students lose the will to protest. Pathetic.

    1359: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets Last few protesters by Parliament outnumbered now by police, camera crews and bemused tourists.

    1359: Josh Klinghoffer

    tweets: Outside Big Ben, and there is about 60 police vans outside. Scary site. Student protest near london bridge

    1403: Alex C-Ronaldson

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay - students are marching because they are angry. because the youth of today are paying for the last generations mistakes.


    Will Hoyles, from the NUS press office, says an estimated 10,000 people are on the march. The Metropolitan Police says it is not making its own estimate.

    1409: Peter Coulter BBC Northern Ireland Reporter

    tweets: Belfast protest: leader of the Green Party in NI Steven Agnew is addressing the crowd. Says its great to see "passionate young people"

    1409: Luke Walton Education correspondent, BBC News

    BBC correspondent Luke Walton, at Westminster Bridge, says about 100 protesters at most have stayed in the area, while the others have marched on to Kennington Park for the rally.

    1410: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    says the main march is now moving in the heavy rain through streets behind Waterloo, followed by lines of police.

    students with placard

    The students have not been impressed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's apology in September for reneging on a pre-election pledge not to raise tuition fees.

    1410: George Paterson

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Students are marching because they are misinformed about the new loan repayments system. It's actually fairer than before.

    1412: Peter Coulter BBC Northern Ireland Reporter

    tweets: Shannen O'Reilly, 18, gets £60 every two weeks in EMA. She uses almost all of it to pay for travel to and from school. pic.twitter.com/VqDeiCXH


    Nick Clegg's apology over the Liberal Democrat's tuition fees U-turn was turned into a satirical song and became an online hit. Mr Clegg gave his permission for a spoof video of him singing the apology to be released as a single on iTunes, with all the profits going to the Children's Hospital Charity in Sheffield, where he is an MP.

    1423: Matthew Brown, President of the @UWELabour Society

    tweets: Police asking us to move to the right to clear the pavement for non-marchers. Responses of "To the right? Like the Government!" :D #Demo2012

    marchers flanked by police officers

    The march is on its way to Kennington Park for a rally.

    1423: John, Glasgow

    emails: I am in full support of #demo2012! We must show this ConDem government that students will not stand by as the leaders impose austerity measures on society and politicians break their promises on tuition fees. Students must march on London!

    1424: Perpetual Brade

    tweets: Torrential rain and getting very wet. Students still enthusiastic though #demo2012

    1429: Mark Stander, student

    texts: I'm a student who previously supported but the campaign, lost my support today. No Ifs, no buts, I'm just stuck on a bus. Traffic's terrible around Tottenham Court Road.

    1429: Steve

    texts: Free education would be a worthwhile investment in children and young people demonstrating the value we should be showing them look at the other stories about children and young people! There is a connection. Invest in youth services, EMA and free university. We are a wealthy country.

    1444: Tomas Jivanda

    tweets: Starting to be a few grumbles against the NUS for length of march and organising it for November #demo2012 @eastlondonlines


    Labour MP John McDonnell tweets: #Demo2012 Solidarity to all those marching in this appalling weather. Keep up the fight.


    A report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) last month says the government has underestimated how much universities charge in fees and overestimated how much graduates will earn in future.

    Hepi says the revenue the government expects to get back from loans made to students is "highly uncertain".


    The rally is now under way at Kennington Park with speakers from the NUT and Unison among those to address the crowds.

    1502: Nottingham University Television

    tweets: 'Its cold, its wet and we're in loads of debt' chants as we near kennington park #demo2012

    1503: Oscar Quine

    tweets: @eastlondonlines quite a few anti-NUS chants going on. Factionalism, anyone?

    1504: Suzy Mortimer, Ramsey

    emails: As a further education student preparing to apply for university, looking at the fees for my chosen course alone makes me want to cry. Add in my travel and living costs, and it takes a lot for me to remember why I need to go to university. I've had to make the decision to live at home with my mum, just so that I can afford to even consider university.

    I'm concerned that if tuition fees rise any more, and if more financial aid for poorer students is cut, then students like myself who are dependant on benefits such as income support to simply make it through the week, will be blocked out of university and further education.


    Despite the rise in tuition fees for undergraduates starting courses this year, figures released by the admissions service Ucas last month show record numbers applied for places on the most competitive university courses starting in 2013/14.

    Almost 57,000 applied for dentistry, medicine or veterinary science courses or to study at Oxford or Cambridge, before their 15 October early deadline - 2% higher than for the same courses this time last year.

    1504: Sean Talbot

    tweets: The weather is deadly. Half the demo is now crowded into a tiny coffee house in Kennington Park #demo2012

    1507: Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

    tweets: Students staged their protest, the police were low key and got the march past Westminster. And the weather closed off the proceedings.


    Today's march of some 10,000 students, according to the NUS, appears to have passed off peacefully.

    This is in sharp contrast to angry demonstrations two years ago, which drew 50,000 students and saw a violent attack on Conservative Party offices in Mill bank.


    John Morgan, from Times Higher Education tweets: In Kennington Park for #demo2012 rally. Speakers including Liam Burns being barracked by hard left group carrying 'Smash the NUS' banner.


    John Morgan, from Times Higher Education, tweets : Stage now cleared after anti NUS protesters forced NUS president Liam Burns from stage. #demo2012

    1529: Kakeface

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay strange how alot of those who got their education free seem angry that now students are 'stealing their taxes' somehow.


    The NUS urged students to call their local radio station to request a song in support of the demonstration.

    The union said this would "get our message out to local communities".

    1544: Luke Walton Education correspondent, BBC News

    NUS president Liam Burns was loudly heckled.


    James Albury (Alburyj) tweets : Stage invaded at NUS #Demo2012 by some who appear to be angry at "impotency" of union.


    At the rally NUS president Liam Burns was pelted with eggs and a satsuma as he addressed the protesters. Around 20 demonstrators then stormed the stage, forcing Mr Burns to leave.


    After that disruption, the Metropolitan Police tweets: The #Demo2012 rally at Kennington Park has now concluded and all participants have dispersed. All roads have now reopened.


    That concludes our coverage of the student protests. You can read the full story of today's protests here.


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