9:00am Friday 29th October 2010
By Rhianne Pope
STUDENTS blocked Broad Street in Oxford yesterday in protest at planned cuts in university funding and tuition fee increases.
More than 1,000 people, holding banners and chanting: ‘Vince Cable, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue’ marched to Radcliffe Square.
The rally was organised to coincide with the Business Secretary’s planned visit to Oxford University.
He had been due to visit the university to attend a seminar called Lessons in Government.
But the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham pulled out on Wednesday, due to concerns about safety.
A spokesman for Dr Cable said: “(The cancellation) followed advice from Thames Valley Police about threats of a protest and his concern about the level of disruption this could cause to the people of Oxford, plus the possible cost of policing.”
A police spokesman confirmed they had informed Dr Cable about the protest, but would never advise a speaker whether or not to attend a private event.
Among the protesters was 21-year-old Jack Miller, a student from Suffolk studying at St Hugh’s College.
He said: “My father is on benefits and has been my entire life. If the Government had raised the fees when I was applying, I never would have been able to come here.
“I have been told my whole life that I should get a good education and a good job, but what chance would I have had then?”
The rally was in protest against a recent review of university funding, led by former BP chairman Lord Browne, which recommended removing the cap on tuition fees, currently £3,290. Large cuts to higher education were also announced in the Government’s comprehensive spending review last week.
Music student Julia Sitkovetsky, 21, said: “This is just going to make going to university a privilege again. It shouldn’t be elitist.”
The march was organised by the Oxford Education Campaign, a network of students, academics and residents concerned about the future of higher education.
Co-organiser Jonny Meldrum, 20, a medical student, said: “The protest took such momentum as it’s something people feel very strongly about.
“Raising tuition fees is going to destroy access to universities, especially ones like Oxford, which will charge the most.
He added: “I mentor secondary school pupils and when I ask them about coming to university, they always talk about how expensive it is first. And that’s with the fees at £3,000, so who knows what it will be like at up to £12,000?”
History student Jennifer Geoffroy, 19, said: “People might think we’re just students and we don’t know anything. But we do know this affects us, and it will affect our younger siblings, so we need to make our voices heard.
“So where is Vince Cable to face his voters and answer us?”
The students marched to Radcliffe Square and a few attempted to get through to the High Street, but were stopped by police.
Insp Clare Mackintosh, of Thames Valley Police said: “We’ve got about a dozen officers here, but it has been a very peaceful protest.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group