Students may strike over tuition fees

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The Independent Online

A national student strike is being organised as part of continuing protests over the Government's controversial plans for a huge rise in university tuition fees, it was revealed today.

Protest leaders said at least 13 universities remained occupied overnight following yesterday's day of action by thousands of further education and school students.

Criticism of police tactics during trouble which flared in Westminster continued today, with students complaining they had been forcibly trapped in an area close to Parliament during a "kettling" operation by the Metropolitan Police.

Two police officers and 15 people were injured during the trouble and 32 arrests were made. They were being held in custody as the clean-up operation began today.

A stranded police van was ransacked and looted a short distance from the entrance to Downing Street, with buses and bus shelters also vandalised, windows broken and graffiti sprayed.

The protest followed a march in London by 50,000 students on November 10 which ended with widows being smashed in a building housing the headquarters of the Conservative party.

The Education Activist Network (EAN), which helped organise yesterday's protests across Britain, said a follow-up day of action is being planned for next Tuesday, billing it as a national student strike.

"Yesterday's incredible protests organised by school, FE and university students underlined what November 10 had already shown - there is mass, deep-seated and furious opposition to the government's education cuts.

"The sheer number of walkouts, protests and marches yesterday, from the smallest school to most of Britain's major cities were too numerous for the media to count," said a spokesman.

"In London, the heavy-handed brutality of the police force denied thousands the right to protest. Police saw fit to kettle students as young as 14 for hours on end in the cold."

The protesters said they were prevented from handing a letter of protest over tuition fees to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

"Twenty years ago this week Margaret Thatcher resigned, broken by the poll tax protests. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have unleashed a wave of anger that will sweep them away too unless their plans to wreck our education are withdrawn.

"Government attempts to quash or quell the protests - like Michael Gove's dismissal of those involved in the uprising as an activist fringe - will not wash. A movement is under way that holds real possibilities of change," said the EAN.