13/02/2012 08:34 GMT | Updated 14/02/2012 03:26 GMT

NUS Urges Mass Walkout To Protest Against Student Fees

The National Union of Students (NUS) is urging its members to stage a mass walkout in protest against the government "selling off" education.

An email was sent to tens of thousands of students at the end of last week informing them of plans to hold a five-day week of action in March. In the letter, the NUS stated it wanted a public debate on "damaging reforms", saying they should be brought out in the open "rather than behind closed doors".

The call for action comes after a consultation with the membership on what the NUS's campaigning priorities should be. The union has now planned the week of action to take place on 12 March until 16 March, with a national walkout planned on Wednesday 14 and a lobby of parliament on 18 April. The latter is to "educate our MPs about the issues so they can question the Minister on our behalf".

The week will see campus demonstrations across the country in order to highlight what the NUS argue is the "pricing of students out of education".

"Students will not stand by and let the coalition press ahead with its destructive plans to sell off and privatise our universities and colleges. We want openness on the future of our education."

The email added: "The walkout will show the government what campuses will look like if they continue to press ahead with their plans for privatisation - deserted."

Mark Sewards, communications officer at Leeds Students Union, said the university students would be taking action, but it was yet to be decided what form this would take.

"Personally, I've been pushing the merits of following the walkout," he told The Huffington Post UK.

"Leeds will be taking part to demonstrate to the coalition we have not forgotten their actions on raising fees or their attempts to introduce a market into Higher Education.

"We want to keep the Liberal Democrats broken promises in the lime light and the damaging effect the Conservatives have had on the sector," he added.

Of the 32,000 students at Leeds, 2,000 joined a local march across the city in protest against the tuition fee hike. More than 600 of the students made the trip to London to march last November, filling "every single coach we booked".

The protest will echo the feelings expressed last year when thousands took to the capital's streets in November to protest against higher tuition fees.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said:

“We are putting students at the heart of the system, with a diverse range of providers offering high-quality teaching. Going to university depends on ability not the ability to pay.

"Most new students will not pay upfront, there will be more financial support for those from poorer families and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well paid jobs.

"Students, like other citizens, have the right to participate in peaceful protest.”