Latest Student Protest Planned

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Thousands of students are expected to hit the streets of London tomorrow in the latest protest against increased tuition fees. Whilst a number of leading academics lend their support, the police are preparing for the possibility of violence.

Following last year's announcement that tuition fees are to increase to a maximum of £9,000 a year from 2012, unrest has never been far from the surface. Hundreds of thousands of students have joined marches and protests, most notably in November and December last year when a number of largely peaceful protests erupted in to violence.

Academics' Support

After several months of little public action, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has organised a new protest for tomorrow. Up to 10,000 students are expected to gather at the University of London Students' Union before marching to the City- London's financial district. Over 70 academics from institutions across the country have given their backing in an open letter to the Guardian newspaper, stating:

"We unreservedly support the education protest in London... We believe education is a common good and should be publicly and collectively funded through the tax system. On 9 November we will stand alongside students and other education workers, past, present and future, to fight for an education system accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged."

Pleads for Peace

Although the organisers are planning nothing more than a peaceful march, the events of last year's protests and the summer's riots are still fresh in people's minds. The police will be on high alert, and will have more than 4,000 officers overseeing the rally, whilst a number of high profile figures have pleaded against violence.

The Universities Minister David Willetts has emphasised that "it would be appalling if we had a repeat of those shocking events earlier in the year". He went on to say:

"I think everybody understands that in this country there is a democracy, there is a peaceful right to protest. It should not become violent. I have enormous respect and value the contribution of young people".

There is the worry that the protests may be disrupted by violent activists who will aim to take advantage The planned route of the march will take the protesters close to the protest currently taking place at St. Paul's Cathedral and there is the worry that activists from the make shift camp will attempt to hijack the rally.

Indeed, police are so concerned by the threat of violence, that they have been granted the use of rubber bullets in extreme circumstances. It would be the first time that such measures have ever been used in mainland Britain and police have been warned by London Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones that "any officer that shoots a student with a baton round will have to answer to the whole of London".


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