Published Wednesday, 10 November 2010
A number of police officers were among the injured when demonstrations by up to 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters descended into chaos at Millbank Tower, next to the River Thames.
The march, organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, started off peacefully - moving from Whitehall, past Downing Street and Parliament.
But a group of protestors later smashed their way into the headquarters of the Conservative Party, shattering windows and burning placards.
One student from Belfast, who is a first year at Kingston University, told UTV there was a lot of support for the protestors as proposed cuts would close the door to third-level education on many prospective students.
But amid loud chants of "No ifs, no buts - no education cuts", he added of the violence: "You can never condone it really - I'm against the violence. Peaceful protest, that's what it's about."
We’re doing this to peacefully but strongly let politicians and others hear our voices – that we do not want increases in student fees.
Fiona Kidd, Queen’s University student
Fiona Kidd, from Queen's University, Belfast, also took part in the protests - but condemned the disturbances.
"That is not why Queen's University travelled over 400 miles to get here, it's not why NUS managed to demonstrate the largest student movement in over two decades," she said.
NUS president Aaron Porter said a small minority of protesters had "hijacked" the march and described the violence as "despicable".
His Northern Irish counterpart - NUS-USI President Ciarnan Helferty - has also condemned the violent actions of "rogue protestors".
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt added that the actions of a minority should not distract from the message.
"The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to send a clear and peaceful message to the politicians," she said.
"The actions of a minority, out of 50,000 people, is regrettable."
The protesters in the Tory HQ building and on the roof released a statement which said: "We oppose all cuts and we stand in solidarity with public sector workers, and all poor, disabled, elderly and working people.
"We are occupying the roof in opposition to the marketisation of education pushed through by the coalition government, and the system they are pushing through of helping the rich and attacking the poor.
"We call for direct action to oppose these cuts. This is only the beginning of the resistance to the destruction of our education system and public services."
© UTV News