Three universities are occupied in fees protests

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

image caption, Students are planning a day of protests against raising tuition fees

Students protesting against raising tuition fees are staging occupations in London, Bristol and Manchester.

Occupations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, UWE Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan University are ahead of this week's national protests.

The protests and walk outs, set for Wednesday, have been backed by a statement signed by the president of the National Union of Teachers.

The statement says young people will be the "victims" of education cuts.

The organisers of this week's protests say that an "unprecedented wave of student revolt is unfolding" - and they invoke the spirit of student protests of 1968.

The message of support from NUT president, Gill Goodswen and 10 other national executive members, says young people are "right to be angry about this and their keenness to be involved in the protest against fees and cuts is a tribute to them".

It also calls on teachers to avoid "any instruction to prevent walkouts or to retrospectively discipline pupils who take part".

But an official statement from the NUT distances the union from the statement - saying that it did not back pupils walking out of the classroom.


Students are planning to protest this week against proposals to raise fees in England to £9,000 per year and to cut university teaching budgets.

It is expected that MPs will vote on the higher education plans before Christmas.

Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London began the occupation of a gallery area at about midday on Monday.

The students say that the university will lose all of its teaching budget in spending cuts - and it calls on the university's head to refuse to budget for such cuts.

It also calls for lecturers to give 15 minutes of lecture time to discuss "the impact of the cuts".

A statement from the university said: "Whilst we understand the anger and frustration of the students, and acknowledge their efforts to minimise disruption to teaching, we do not regard this occupation of our premises as a legitimate form of protest."

Students at Manchester Metropolitan University say that about 50 people are occupying a lecture theatre in protest against the plans to raise fees.

An occupation at the campus of the University of the West of England in Bristol also began on Monday afternoon.

A wave of student protests and occupations are expected across the country this week, with events planned for London, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A march against the proposed fee increase two weeks ago ended with an attack on the Millbank office block where the Conservative party is based.