Massive student fees protests hit UK

A nationwide protest against university fees hits the UK today, as student across the country demonstrate against the costs of their education.

The protests form part of an international day of action called by the European student union.

Events are planned in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Kent, Reading, Exeter, Plymouth, Cambridge, Leeds, Oxford, Durham and Cardiff, among others.

National Union of Students (NUS) president Wes Streeting said: “Students are making a stand today because the current system is completely unfair. All students have to pay £3,145 a year in top-up fees, but they face a postcode lottery when it comes to financial support.

“We want a national bursary scheme, so that poorer students get financial support based on how much they need it, not on where they study.”

Bursaries are offered by universities to students are struggling with their fees but the cash offered varies widely depending on the institution.

Richer institutions in the Russell group of elite universities can afford to pay out annual bursaries of £1,791 to students, but less well-funded universities are forced to drop their offers to around £680.

Last week the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills announced it would cut partial grants offered to students from middle-income families in order to compensate for an underestimation of the number of poorer students claiming full grants.

“The measures laid out by the government last week will inevitably hit new students from middle income families at a time when they are struggling to cope with the impact of the credit crunch,” Mr Streeting said.

Next year sees a review into higher education funding.

The average student leaves university with £20,000 of debt.