British Students in Violent Protest Against Tuition Hikes

Violent protests drew tens of thousands of activists.

ByABC News
November 10, 2010, 1:57 PM

November 10, 2010 — -- Holding signs reading "Free my Future" and "Stop Education Cuts," up to 50,000 students stomped through the streets of London today, protesting both a tuition hike and deep cuts to the education budget.

The protests turned violent Wednesday afternoon with protesters and police fighting in front of the Conservative Party's headquarters, the Millbank Tower.

Students shattered the glass windows of the tower and hundreds occupied the building for a time. Activists threw water, paper, and even a fire extinguisher from the roof of the political headquarters.

Others built bonfires outside of the tower.

"We are destroying the building just like they are destroying our chances of affording higher education," Corin Parker, a student at London's City University, told the Associated Press.

The Conservative Party, called the Tory Party, drew the ire of students and education activists by announcing plans to triple tuition fees, meaning tuition could be as high as $14,000 a year for some students.

"People like my brother who has just started out at university will have to pay ridiculous amounts when he leaves university and it's ridiculous," one protester said.

Police seemed unprepared for the violence. During frightening moments, protesters pushed right through police lines, venting their anger on the political headquarters.

Police said that eight people, both protesters and police, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Theater student Bebe William Daniels told ABC News that she was willing to risk arrest to stand up to politicians.

"They don't listen to us, we don't have a vote on this and this is the only way we can show people how much we care," Daniels said.

A low-cost education in Britain is considered a right. In the United States, the average cost per year at a state school is just over $7600. On average, British students pay about $5000 a year for college and much of that is subsidized by the government.