Thousands of students marched through central London yesterday, Wednesday. They were protesting against Tory plans to scrap the Maintenance Grant, given to students from lower income households, and racist scapegoating.
Organisers said more than 10,000 people took to the streets, but there were other estimates.
Sara Doyle from Liverpool Hope University was one of the marchers. She said, “I really hate how they’re making education seem like it’s a privilege.
“If they cut the grant it will make education seem more intimidating to working class people. Ordinary people will be put off from going to university.”
Another student said, “I get the grant this year. It will get ridiculous if they get rid of it – people from lower income backgrounds will be in more debt.”
But she added, “If more people come out against it, the Tories won’t be able to push it through."
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell addressed the march before it set off. He said, “Education is a basic human right, not something to be bought and sold.
“This generation will teach the Tories that we will not stand by and let them destroy our futures.”
The protesters were also marching against immigration controls and the Prevent strategy, which makes universities spy on Muslim students.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has been organising Students Not Suspects meetings at universities around Britain to tackle Prevent.
NUS vice president for welfare, Shelly Asquith, has been involved in organising the meetings. She told Socialist Worker, “We’re really worried that black and Muslim students in particular are being profiled and monitored.
“We’ve already had more campuses saying they want to hold events. We’re hoping the tour will continue throughout the year.”
Students chanted “Refugees are welcome here” as they marched past the Home Office, which is responsible for immigration controls and Prevent. Some threw smoke grenades and paint bombs at the building.
Police attacked the protest and set up a cordon when the march stopped for its finishing rally outside the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) building. BIS is responsible for higher education.
Riot police attacked and arrested a number of protesters after the march broke through the cordon. Police arrested 12 people.
But the demonstration continued as students evaded the police and marched back up Whitehall.
The demonstration was called by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), and supported by the Student Assembly Against Austerity.
Students are now organising a walkout in solidarity with migrants on 17 November, which has been called by NUS.
The Student Assembly will also hold its national convention in London on 21 November.