Disturbances spoil end of student protest against funding cuts

Riot police clashed with student protesters at the end of a mass demonstration against funding cuts in the centre of The Hague on Friday.

A group of between 300 and 500 students had gathered around the parliament building after the main demo had ended and were eventually dispersed by police, news agency ANP said.
Order was restored after charges by riot police at around 17.00 hours, ANP said.
Mass gathering
Between 11,000 and 15,000 students and university staff gathered on the Malieveld on Friday in protest at government plans to cut university funding and reduce student grants. According to Nos television, it was the biggest student demonstration in the Netherlands since 1988.
The students are angry at government plans to make slow students higher fees. Students who take a year longer than the standard three years to get a degree will have to pay an extra €3,000 a year in university or college fees.
University budgets will also be cut by €3,000 for each slow student. The aim of these changes is to generate €370m.
The government is also planning to stop giving students any grants for their masters studies.
Some 1,000 professors and lecturers also took part in the protests in full academic garb.
Police had taken extra security measures because of rumours that ‘radicals’ were planning to disrupt the protests. But by 16.00, as the demonstration began to break up, there had been no trouble.
In a speech to the students, Alexander Pechtold, leader of the Liberal democratic party D66 pointed out that he, prime minister Mark Rutte and foreign minister Maxime Verhagen all took far longer to complete their degrees. Rutte took six years and Verhagen 11.
Junior education minister Halbe Zijlstra, who is in charge of pushing though the changes, was greeted by boos when he addressed the crowd. The minister said he understood students’ worries but that stressed the changes are necessary to keep spending on student loans down.
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