Christian students denounce violence but say protests over fees are right

The Student Christian Movement has expressed its support for protests against the rise of tuition fees.

Christian students and university chaplains were among the thousands of protestors who marched through London on Wednesday to express their opposition to Government plans to lift the cap on tuition fees, currently set at £3,920 a year.

The change would allow universities in England to charge students up to £9,000 a year, although the universities would be subject to a levy on higher end fees and have to use part of the increased income to support poorer students.

Hilary Topp, National Coordinator of the Student Christian Movement, said keeping fees low was an issue of justice.

She warned that a substantial increase may deter applicants from poorer backgrounds and “enslave students to a lifetime of debt”.

“The demonstrations show that students are rightly angry about these proposals, and they are willing to stand up against unfair fees that will not affect them, but will impact on the opportunities open to future generations,” she said.

“Access to higher education should be based on ability, not the ability to pay.”

SCM is calling on the Government to make spending on higher education more of a priority. It wants the money earmarked for the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system to be spent on education instead.

Protests on Wednesday turned violent when some of the demonstrators assaulted police and vandalised property.

Andy Treharne, SCM member and a student at the University of Southampton, said: “The majority of protestors expressed their anger in a peaceful and constructive way.

“The handful of violent demonstrators should not distract us from the real issue, which is that access to higher education would become unfair under the proposed system.”