Tyne & Wear

Students occupy Newcastle City Council chamber

Courtesy of Steven Lee
Image caption The students were also protesting against public sector cuts

About 20 Newcastle University students occupied the main council chamber of the city's civic centre in an ongoing protest against proposed hikes to tuition fees.

They said the protest was also against cuts within the public service.

On 24 November students marched through the city prior to occupying the university's Fine Arts building. A number of these students remain there.

The council supports replacing student tuition fees with a graduate tax.

In a resolution set out by the leader of the council, David Faulkner, it called for the Coalition government "to again consider replacing student tuition fees with a fair graduate tax to help support students from all backgrounds".

In a meeting with the students Mr Faulkner said he would e-mail the resolution to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, party president Tim Farron and all other MPs.

Shared resolution

He also shared his personal view, in which he stated he hoped members would oppose proposals.

In an e-mail to Lib Dem members about the student occupation, he explained that he and the deputy leader Anita Lower had met with the students and shared with them the content of the city council resolution.

He said: "I explained that when I met Nick Clegg in his office six weeks ago I told him of the disquiet among many of our councillors, and that I said my personal view was were I an MP I would vote against the recommendations of the Browne report."

Students said the occupation was also a protest "for the people who have been let down by the government".

University occupation

A statement said: "We are here for the people who have been let down by attacks on education, public services and the welfare state."

The Liberal Democrat-controlled council has said up to 2,000 jobs are to go over the next four years in the wake of government spending cuts.

The occupation at the university is ongoing. About 60 students are involved.

The students stressed the occupation was a peaceful protest and there would be no disruption to lectures or seminars.

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