Students Shut Down Westminster Bridge in Protest over Scrapping of Maintenance Grants

Student protestors sat down on Westminster Bridge
Student protesters sat down on Westminster Bridge

Westminster Bridge was closed for over an hour and a half yesterday as a result of a protest against the government’s decision to scrap maintenance grants.

King’s students were among those who gathered in Parliament Square to demonstrate their disapproval to the controversial proposals.

The protest was held to coincide with Labour’s Opposition Day debate as the party attempted to reverse the motion. The Tories had been accused of acting undemocratically by voting on the proposals in a legislation committee and not the House of Commons.

The vote held after the debate saw the government’s plans approved by a margin of 306 to 292.

'Education for the masses, not just for the ruling classes'
KCLSU Vice President for Activities and Development Joe Simpson

Currently over half a million students from low-income backgrounds receive either a partial or full maintenance grant to assist with the costs of higher education, a system that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has described as “unaffordable”.

Students in England that start university in the next academic year will receive loans instead of the grants. The new system has been criticised by some because it is believed it will deter young people from disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university, a view shared by KCLSU. The Student Officers’ team released a statement expressing solidarity with protesters, saying:

“[We] fear that the cuts to support for [working-class students] will lower access further for the next generation, and price people out of education.”

Additional reporting and photography by Ryan Chang

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