Security at the headquarters of the Liberal Democrats is to be stepped up after a group of students protesting against rising tuition fees said it would target the building next week.
A nationwide day of walkouts, sit-ins and demonstrations will take place on 24 November as protesters aim to build opposition to the reforms for higher education, which will see annual tuition fees triple in 2012.
More lecturers, including the head of Britain's main higher education union, have signed a petition supporting last week's student protests, which saw windows smashed and fires lit by demonstrators inside the Conservative Party headquarters in central London. More than 50 protesters have been arrested.
Alan Whitaker, the national president of the University and College Union, has added his name to the document, which calls on the public to "rally behind all who were arrested for fighting to defend their education". The union has officially condemned the violence at the protests.
Dr Marion Hersh, a member of the union's national executive committee, also backed the protest and called on the union to change its position. "It was a great demonstration in terms of the occupation," she said. "There's a lot of justifiable anger that currently the Government seems to be proposing to totally dismantle higher education."
The Education Activist Network (EAN), a radical student group which has also defended the direct action taken last week, has now said that the Liberal Democrat headquarters in Cowley Street, Westminster, would be targeted as part of its "Day X" protests next week.
Activists at the University of Sheffield will also meet today to decide if they are going to target the offices and home of Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader. They believe he is guilty of "betrayal" after he and his party signed a pledge to oppose any rise in tuition fees during the election campaign.
Mark Bergfeld, a member of the National Union of Students' (NUS) executive committee and an EAN spokesman, said the Liberal Democrats' U-turn made them a "legitimate target for direct action".
"The Tories and Lib Dems want to create an education system for the few and the privileged and we're going to fight," he said. "We are targeting the Lib Dems in particular for their lies. I think we have the right to target Lib Dems up and down the country, occupy their offices and call on them to join our fight. Ultimately, we want to split the Government."
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