Sit-in students threatened with legal action

Students occupying a top university in protest at hikes in tuition fees have been warned they must leave or face legal action.

University College London (UCL) is this afternoon seeking a court order to evict students who have been staging a sit-in for the past eight days.

It is understood that between 100 and 200 people have been taking part in the occupation, which is being held in UCL's Jeremy Bentham room in the Wilkins Building in central London.

In a letter to the students, UCL said they acknowledged students feel angry about proposed cuts to higher education funding, and Government plans to raise tuition fees.

But the letter added that the occupation is "disrupting significantly the day-to-day operation of UCL", with a number of planned events being cancelled.

It called for students to end the sit-in by 11am today, and not to occupy another part of the campus.

"Please be clear that, if you do not vacate the Jeremy Bentham room by 11am today, your continued occupation of that room (or your occupation of any other part of UCL's campus to which you may re-locate after leaving the Jeremy Bentham room) will be without UCL's either express or implied authority or permission," the letter said.

"As such, your occupation will be unlawful and UCL will be entitled to commence legal proceedings against you for an Order requiring you to vacate any part of UCL's campus that you are then occupying and preventing you from undertaking any future occupation of UCL's campus or conducting any unlawful activities which disrupt the day-to-day operation of UCL."

The sit-in is one of a number of occupations currently taking place around the country.

Earlier, organisers of student protests against higher tuition fees and cuts in spending announced they are planning more demonstrations following yesterday's widespread action.

The Education Activist Network said another day of action will be held on December 11, when parents and teachers will be urged to join students opposed to the Government's controversial plans to charge students up to £9,000 per year in fees.

Spokesman Mark Bergfeld paid tribute to students who took part in street protests across the UK yesterday, including in central London where more than 150 people were arrested after a clash with police.

Mr Bergfeld condemned police for making such a large number of arrests, describing the protests as "absolutely brilliant".

He said: "We are building on recent protests and it is clear the movement is growing. More and more young people are displaying their anger at the Government's plans and we now want to get parents and teachers involved."

A huge protest is being planned for the day MPs will vote on tuition fees, expected before the end of the month.