Students take to London streets in tuition fees protest

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Students have flooded the streets of central London demanding the end of tuition fees, in a protest backed by Jeremy Corbyn.

Hundreds of young activists marched on Whitehall bearing placards calling for the rich to be taxed to fund higher education.

Organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the demo received the endorsement of the Labour leader and his supporting grassroots movement Momentum.

Simultaneous events were taking place across the country, including at university campuses.

Red flares were let off by several protesters as they gathered in the shadow of Parliament, with the crowd chanting: "What do we want? Free education. When do we want it? Now."

Huddled around a makeshift stage in Parliament Square, many brandished placards reading "Free education now" and "Tax the rich", while listening to student speakers.

Students protest in the capital
Students protest in the capital (John Stillwell/PA)

It follows a decision by the Government to freeze, rather than reduce, university tuition fees at a maximum of £9,250.

The event organisers wrote online: "There is no shortage of wealth in our society: enormous riches lie hoarded in the pockets of a few.

"Let's tax that wealth and put it to better use by investing in an education run by and for students, workers and communities.

"Instead of a decimated adult education sector and ongoing job cuts on many university campuses, we're fighting to reverse cuts to further and higher education, to invest, to create decent jobs, and to support students."

Students take part in a protest against tuition fees in central London
The rally follows a Government decision to freeze tuition fees (John Stillwell/PA)

Natasha Ryan, 20, a student at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, was among those in attendance.

She told the Press Association: "I'm from a working class background in Liverpool and my family can't really support me as other families could so I've had to get many jobs to find, and save to come up to uni."

Joel Douglas, 22, who is studying sound art design at the London College of Communication, said he wanted to see student fees and existing student debt abolished in its entirety.

"For me, I think there is a lot of fear around education," he said.

"It's certainly quite a scary thing, the fact that you are kind of expected to go into education, but you also have the prospect of paying off this debt for a long time - for the rest of your life."

Protesters gather in central London
Protesters gather in central London (John Stillwell/PA)

Last week, Mr Corbyn issued a message of solidarity and urged people to join the event.

He said: "Since 2014, the Tories have made unprecedented cuts to further education - they've taken away bursaries for nurses and they've abolished maintenance for the poorest students.

"Now the Tories think that capping university fees at £9,250 a year will be some sort of remedy to all this - what an insult.

"Everyone should have access to quality education from the cradle to the grave, without being forced into debt and anxiety.

"No-one should be shut out. That's why I'm supporting the demonstration."