Thousands of UK Students Protest Tuition Hikes

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Thousands of angry students marched through the streets of London, Wednesday, in protest of the government's plan to raise university tuition.

Some 50,000 students, teachers, and supporters protested plans to triple the cost of studying at a university to about $14,000. In the past, attending was free.

Students smashed windows at the headquarters of the Conservative Party, part of the governing coalition. Office workers were evacuated when protesters managed to get into the lobby.

Britain's Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems as they're called in Britain, had promised students they would abolish university fees. But then Nick Clegg, head of the Lib Dems, backtracked on his pledge.

"I acknowledge this is an extraordinarily difficult issue and I've been entirely open about the fact that we have not been able to deliver the policy that we held in opposition," he said.

Protest leaders want to recall lawmakers who they feel have broken campaign promises.

"It's so important because we are the people that got the Lib Dems in [coalition] power," one protester said. "A large part of their vote were students, and now our vote is just being disregarded."

"The fact that the Lib Dems' only real policy was free universities and now they are going to up the fees is a complete contradiction in terms," another added.

But some would say free education is a contradiction in terms, especially when Britain is struggling financially.

Government debt has risen to 65 percent of the gross domestic product. Economist Eamonn Butler said the real figure could be much higher than that.

"Because there is so much of our debt that doesn't actually appear on the government's books," he explained.

The latest protest follows riots in France in October, which has also been forced to cut welfare.

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