Age 21 and 21 grand in debt

27 October 2003
Disgruntled students marched through central London yesterday, bringing the capital to a standstill.

Demonstrators attacked the government's controversial plans to introduce "top-up" fees for university courses.

Led by the National Union of Students (NUS), marchers ended at a rally in Trafalgar Square, where former health secretary Frank Dobson addressed the crowd.

Students are furious with the Government for failing to heed their advice that charging up to £3,000 a year for tuition fees in England and Wales would be divisive, elitist and would burden them with huge debts, which on graduation could £30,000 pounds, according to estimates from the NUS.

Paul Mackney, general secretary of the lecturers union, Natfhe, and Sally Hunt of the AUT also spoke at Trafalgar Square.

Demonstrators waved signs, some displaying slogans such as "Give Way Tony" and "Age 21 and 21 grand in debt."

The NUS said 31,000 people attended the rally. Police put the figure at 10,000.

Beleaguered opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith, who had earlier told students he would rule out tuition fees if elected, joined the march with shadow education secretary Damien Green.