Thousands of students travelled to London last Sunday to join a National Union of Students (NUS) demonstration over education funding.
Most of the protesters came from outside the capital - with sizeable delegations from many cities across Britain, including Swansea, Reading, Durham and Kent.
Entry to university has been hit by the government’s imposition of top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year. One key demand of the demonstration was opposition to any attempt to lift the cap on top-up fees, which the government will begin to review in 2008.
Gemma Tumelty, president of NUS, told Socialist Worker, “We wish to follow up this protest with local action to put pressure on university vice- chancellors. We have to use the next three years to stop them lifting the cap.
“The overall aim of our campaign is to win free education. If we win over the cap, we are more likely to win over free education.”
Mandy Wilson, a second year student from Northumbria university in Newcastle, said, “Top-up fees are stopping working class people going to university.
“Tony Blair and his ministers got a free education and were paid a grant when they went to university.
“They could pay for education by not using the money for war - they should help people here, rather than causing trouble around the world.”
Hayley Wilkinson, a first year history student from Reading university, said, “I had to think long and hard about going to university.
“I’ll be in a lot of debt by the end of my course.
“I want to become a teacher, and generally people go to university to get jobs that benefit the whole of society. We should get grants.”
Sofia, a first year politics student from Birmingham university said, “I’m paying £3,000 a year for top-up fees and £3,700 for accommodation. I expect to be about £19,000 in debt by the time I finish.
“A lot of my friends were put off going to university. I’d like to go back to grants - the government could pay for them by not bombing other countries.”