David Willetts walks out of Cambridge University talk

The Varsity student newspaper posted video of the protest on YouTube

Related Stories

Universities Minister David Willetts was forced to abandon a speech at Cambridge University after it was disrupted by protesters.

Mr Willetts was due to speak on the 'Idea of University' on Tuesday night.

But he was shouted down by about 20 protesters unhappy with the government's higher education policies.

Mr Willetts left the lecture hall and the speech was cancelled. A number of students stayed inside the hall, where they are now staging a sit-in protest.

In a written statement, the group Cambridge Defend Education (CDE), a coalition of university students, lecturers and staff, said members had read out a letter to Mr Willetts criticising proposed education reforms before some took the stage.

Support for strike

In a press release, CDE quoted Tracey Bateman, a second-year undergraduate at the university.

She said: "Willetts wasn't here for debate, he was here to lecture us on destroying our universities.

"We needed to take this action to make our voices heard."

David Willetts Mr Willetts was forced to abandon the speech after the protesters began shouting

Students are angry at the government's move to raise tuition fees.

Fees will rise to a maximum of £9,000 a year at England's universities from autumn 2012.

Universities in Wales are also raising their fees up to that maximum level - but only for students from outside Wales.

In Scotland, Scottish students will continue to pay no fees, but fees of up to £9,000 a year will be charged to students from other parts of the UK.

Robyn Smith, a PhD student from Trinity College taking part in the sit-in, said: "We're here in solidarity with the Occupy movement... and to build support for millions of striking workers on November 30th."

A spokesman for Cambridge University said: "We are monitoring the situation.

"Our primary concern is to ensure the welfare and safety of students and staff involved."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "Everyone has the right to peaceful protest.

"However the minister is disappointed that he was not able to deliver his speech and answer questions."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Cambridgeshire



18 °C 13 °C


  • Alana Saarinen at pianoMum, Dad and Mum

    The girl with three biological parents

  • Polish and British flags alongside British roadsideWar debt

    Does the UK still feel a sense of obligation towards Poles?

  • Islamic State fighters parade in Raqqa, Syria (30 June 2014)Who backs IS?

    Where Islamic State finds support to become a formidable force

  • Bride and groom-to-be photographed underwaterWetted bliss

    Chinese couples told to smile, but please hold your breath

  • A ship is dismantled for scrap in the port city of Chittagong, BangladeshDangerous work

    Bangladesh's ship breakers face economic challenge

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.