The National Union of Students (NUS) has given its official approval and support to a day of protest on the 9th November 2011 in opposition to the increase in student fees imposed by the coalition government last year.
The NUS staged similar protests throughout November 2010, which ended in violence, rioting, an assault on the Conservative Party headquarters, and an attack on the car of Prince Charles and Camilla. Royal Holloway students from the Anti-Cuts Alliance (ACA) staged a sit-in in the Founders Picture Gallery, but none were arrested or seriously injured in central London. The then NUS president, Aaron Porter, was quick to condemn the violent actions of the protesters last year, so the decision of the NUS to vocalise its support for this bout of protests is an interesting one that could potentially backfire.
An estimated 50,000 people took part in the previous demonstrations, which cost an estimated £7.5 million in policing costs. The figure was taken before the costs of the clean-up operation and compensation claims made due to the widespread damage caused by protesters. This round of protests has been organised in coalition with the more radical organisation, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, raising the question of the potential for more radical consequences as a result. Whilst the NUS only supports peaceful student protests, it seems that there is little that they can actually do to stop the protests from becoming violent.