Three students from the University of Sheffield were arrested in London yesterday during a national demonstration against proposed budget cuts on higher education.
More than 180 protesters from Sheffield – the largest group of students from a single city outside London – boarded three coaches around 8am yesterday to demand free education and living grants.
A statement issued by the Metropolitan Police said at least 12 people were arrested on suspicion of public order defences.
The demonstration, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, or NCAFC, drew about 10,000 people from around the country.
One of the University of Sheffield students who was arrested said he was kept in a cell for nearly seven hours.
The young man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I had no idea what time it was or how long I was going to be there.
“It was really difficult.”
Another student, aged 22, was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and detained for nearly 10 hours.
He called his experience ‘pretty humiliating and traumatic.’
All three students from the University of Sheffield have now been released on bail without charges.
First year University of Sheffield student Stuart McMillan acknowledged the possibility of police arrests on his way to London during an interview with The Star yesterday morning.
He said: “We’ve tried to educate people on how to deal with the police and not get into harm or trouble. We’re all going to be sticking together.
“We’re marching to show a different kind of education system is possible - one that is inclusive and egalitarian and accessible to all people, regardless of what income, nationality or background.
“I came to university hoping to find people who are willing to fight for issues I stand for, and they’ve been extremely welcoming. All of a sudden I’m part of something fantastic.”
The demonstration was a response to Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement earlier this year that maintenance grants for lower income students would be scrapped in September 2016 and tuition costs could be increased to account for inflation.
In addition to free education, the NCAFC demanded the abolishment of additional fees for international students and called for a fair and living wage for all university workers.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn endorsed the demonstration, and shadow chancellor John McDonnell spoke at the event.
Demonstrators marched from the University of London in Bloomsbury and passed through the West End, Parliament, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Home Office.