The BBC reports that there have been clashes between demonstrators and police in London today, as students and lecturers protest against plans to treble tuition fees and cut university funding in England.
Protesters have broken into the building housing the Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster.
They have set fire to placards outside.
Student leaders condemned the latest action as “despicable”. They say about 30,000 people took part in a march earlier.
A stand-off is taking place between students and the police, with protesters surging forward at Millbank Tower, chanting.
Some protesters are on a roof terrace at the top of the building.
Missiles have been thrown at the police, as thousands of demonstrators crowd the street outside.
According to Scotland Yard, nine people have been taken to hospitals in London for treatment – both police officers and protestors.
The vast majority of demonstrators had been peaceful, a statement said, but “a small minority” had damaged property.
BBC News correspondent Mike Sergeant is at the scene.
He says the protesters on the roof have been throwing liquids down and that a female police officer has been injured.
And demonstrators have been cleared from outside the Liberal Democrat headquarters, where a car window has been smashed.
Elsewhere, the massive rally had passed off peacefully.
Hundreds of coach loads of students and lecturers had travelled to London from across England for the demonstration in Whitehall, with 2,000 students also travelling from Wales.
President of the National Union of Students Aaron Porter condemned the violence as “despicable”.
“This was not part of our plan,” he said.
“This action was by others who have come out and used this opportunity to hijack a peaceful protest.”
The NUS is threatening to try to unseat Liberal Democrat MPs who go back on pre-election pledges they made to oppose any rise in tuition fees.
Higher education funding is being cut by 40% – with teaching grants being all but wiped out except for science and maths.
The government expects the costs of teaching other courses to be funded by tuition fees.
It proposes that tuition fees should rise from 2012.
The plan is for a lower cap at £6,000, with universities able to charge up to £9,000 – triple the current cap – in “exceptional circumstances”.
Ministers insist their plans offer a “fair deal for students”.
Question Time clash
Earlier on Wednesday, at Question Time in the Commons, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had a fiery exchange with Labour’s Harriet Harman over fees.
He was accused of hypocrisy, because the Liberal Democrats opposed tuition fees in the run-up to the election.
But he said Labour had brought in tuition fees – and had no policy on university funding.
Ms Harman said Nick Clegg was “going along with a Tory plan – to shove the cost of higher education on to students and their families”.
Like many freshers she said, he had been led astray “by a dodgy man” he met in his first week.
Twice, she asked him to specify the size of the cut to university teaching grants – a figure she said was 80%.
But Mr Clegg did not say – and instead attacked Labour’s record on fees.
“Against fees in 1997 – introduced a few months later; against in manifesto in 2001 – introduced top up fees,” he said.
NUS president Aaron Porter says students will attempt to force a by-election in the constituencies of MPs who renege on a pre-election pledge to oppose any hike.
He said: “We will initiate a right to recall against any MP that breaks their pledge on tuition fees.”
In a speech in June, the deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the coalition would bring in a right for voters to re-call their MP and force a by-election if he or she was found to have been engaged in “serious wrong-doing”.
Students plan to make Mr Clegg their first target – and say they will be collecting signatures in his constituency on Monday.
But as yet, no laws have been brought in to make such “re-calls” possible.
The Universities Minister David Willetts said the new system would be fairer than the present one, offering more help to the poorest students
Students would not have to pay anything “up-front” and as graduates, would only have to pay back their tuition fee loans once they were earning £21,000 or more.
“It’s a very progressive package and I hope young people will not be put off,” he said.
“We are really putting power in the hands of students. The money will go where they choose but they will only have to pay back when they are graduates in well-paid jobs.
“I hope at the end of this we will have a better university system than we have at the moment.”
Among the crowds at the rally in London are about 400 students from Oxford.
Oxford University Student Union President David Barclay said: “This is the day a generation of politicians learn that though they might forget their promises, students won’t.
Also there was Johnny Davis, who travelled from Birmingham University, with 11 coach loads of students.
“The level of passion to protest is amazing,” he said.
“It shows how people are very concerned. It seems that students are getting hit time after time.
“This is an outrage to all students who have been told for the last decade to raise their aspirations and go to university.”
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the actions of a minority should not distract from today’s message.
“The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to to send a clear and peaceful message to the politicians,” she said.
“The actions of a minority, out of 50,000 people, is regrettable.”
Greg Judge, a student at the Centre for Deaf Studies in Bristol and an executive member of Liberal Youth, the youth wing of the Lib Dems, said: “The government needs to think again and about the damage it will cause to a generation of young people if this increase goes ahead”.
Anna Tennant-Siren, a student at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, said: “I am here because it is important that students stand up and shout about what is going on.
“Politicians don’t seem to care. They should be taking money from people who earn seven-figure salaries, not from students who don’t have any money.” Source BBC News
See video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11726822
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