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Mass student walkout planned by NUS
The National Union of Students is planning a countrywide campus walkout to fight government reforms to higher education, which its president has described as a "con". Thousands of students are expected to boycott lectures and seminars on Wednesday 14th March in protest against the government's higher education reforms.
The protest is expected to be the most significant student action since the winter of 2010 when a series of demonstrations against the trebling of university fees took place, including the Conservative party headquarters being ransacked, riot police clashing with students in Parliament Square and 393 arrests being made in London.
A separate student campaigning group, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), is also organising a "flurry" of actions including campus occupations and town centre demonstrations.
NUS president Liam Burns said that although the government last month formally dropped its higher education bill, the union wanted to mobilise students against what it feared would be a back-door privatisation.
A circular sent to NUS members said the national walkout would be part of a week of action "to demonstrate to VC's [vice-chancellors] and principals … that students will not stand by and let the coalition government press ahead with its destructive policies to sell off and privatise our universities and colleges".
Burns said there were growing problems around what he called hidden course fees, where students had to pay extra for printing, lab coats, textiles and field trips, even as fees were rising. The extra charges, he said, were "certainly not transparent, and it is becoming very hard to justify why students are having to bear that cost … when fees are £9,000".