Tens of thousands of students marched noisily through London on Wednesday against plans to triple university tuition fees, and some tried to occupy the headquarters of the governing Conservative Party, in the largest street protest yet against the government’s sweeping austerity measures. Organisers said 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters were demonstrating against plans to raise the cost of studying at a university to 9,000 pounds ($14,000) a year, three times the current rate.
Violence flared as a handful of people smashed windows in a high-rise building that houses Conservative headquarters, as others lit a bonfire of placards outside the building.
Office workers were evacuated as several dozen protesters managed to get into the lobby, chanting “Tories Out,” while outside police faced off against a crowd that occasionally hurled food, soda cans and placards.
“We are destroying the building just like they are destroying our chances of affording higher education,” said Corin Parkin, 20, a student at London's City University.
Protest leaders said they would attempt to use recall powers to oust lawmakers who break campaign promises on the issue.
While British tuition fees are modest compared to those at some US colleges, British universities are public institutions.