Greater Manchester pupils walk out over fee rise

Thousands of students have marched through central Manchester to protest against rising tuition fees.

Schoolchildren walked out of lessons to join a column of university students on Oxford Road. Another protest took place in Bury town centre.

Campaigners are opposing rising tuition fees, which could triple to £9,000 under government proposals, which many students say they cannot afford.

Police said the protests were largely peaceful with four arrests.

The column of students filled Oxford Road as they began marching from the universities to the south of the city centre at lunchtime.

Banners included "fight business greed make them pay", "Tory scum here we come, Dumbledore will be ashamed" and pictures of Nick Clegg with a Pinocchio nose.

University of Manchester student Muna Abbas said she was planning to join the march after it passed her flat.

"I believe education is about equality of opportunity. Trebling fees is not acceptable, it cuts off many people from gaining a decent education," she told the BBC.

Pupils in their school uniforms, students, and some parents took part in the marches, which were chaperoned by a police presence.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) estimated that there were about 3,000 protestors in the city centre and a further 1,200 in Bury.

In the city centre, two people were arrested for a public order offence, one man was arrested for obstructing a police officer and another was arrested for failing to uncover his face.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said he was delighted that the protests had been on the whole peaceful.

"Those who have taken part deserve credit for conducting themselves in a way that ensured the demonstrations were peaceful," he said.

'Disgust' at bankers

Samir Karnik Hinks, 18, from Bury College, helped organise the march which ended at Bury town hall.

"We want to send a clear message to the government that the protest in London was not just a one-off and we will not back down," he said.

"We are in it for the long term. It is disgusting that the bankers can give themselves huge bonuses while we are struggling to even receive an education."

Another concern among school pupils is the proposed shake-up to education maintenance allowances (EMAs).

Many fear they will be axed, which means many students will no longer receive £30 a week to help with travel and food costs.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has not confirmed they will definitely go, but has said there will be a "shake-up".

Marches and walk-outs have been organised through Facebook, with thousands of young people joining different campaign groups on the social networking site to voice their anger.

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