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Nationwide Protest Against Loan Privatisation

Over one thousand students are expected to protest today against the Government's proposal to sell student loans to private companies. The 'National Day of Action', to be staged at 26 universities across the country including Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield and LSE will be co-ordinated by the Student Assembly Against Austerity (SAAA).

Over one thousand students are expected to protest today against the Government's proposal to sell student loans to private companies.

The 'National Day of Action', to be staged at 26 universities across the country including Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield and LSE will be co-ordinated by the Student Assembly Against Austerity (SAAA).

"We recognise that the privatisation of our student loans will cause interest rates to rise. We are demanding that they drop this outrageous policy immediately or expect further protests in the New Year," Fiona Edwards, of SAAA said.

Sam Dathi, another spokesperson of the SAAA said: "The only way we're going to defeat the government's cruel and cynical austerity programme is by building a broad, national movement that it can't ignore."

The privatisation of the student loan book was confirmed last June. The Government's Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, has defended the plans and said students will not be affected by the privatisation.

Protest organisers and student leaders have expressed their concerns over the plans and backed tomorrow's protests. Several MPs have also lent their support to the campaign.

Caroline Lucas told The Telegraph: "Education is one of the most important rights we have, but the Government seems intent on treating it as a source of profit for private investors. It's clearly unfair on students, but also on taxpayers who will foot the bill when the Government has to pay penalty fees resulting from students being unable to repay.

"Students are right to be angry, and to exercise their right to peaceful protest against yet another harmful and unnecessary privatisation."

Olivia Arigho-Stiles, a third year History student, who is organising the Oxford protest said privatising student loans was "yet another attack on the accessibility of higher education to less well-off students in this country."

She added that the plan was "further eroding the access and attractiveness of higher education to less advantaged students, and increasingly placing our education in the hands of profit-driven bodies."

Harriet Pugh, who is organising the Manchester event stressed her concerns over awareness: "At present, the majority of students are completely unaware of a proposal that is likely to further increase the already huge financial burden that they are currently facing.."

Duncan Davis who is co-ordinating the campaign at the University of Nottingham said the sell-off would mean a retrospective fee hike and "the breaking of the 'it's a good loan' promise students made to us when we signed up" . However, like many he concedes that the government is "unlikely" to listen to his concerns.

Juliette Cule, Education Officer at University of Sussex Student's Union said: "It will send the message that students are standing up and taking notice of the changes taking place. Students are frustrated that they don't have a voice in Higher Education policy. It is however difficult to remain optimistic about government listening, for example after the Liberal Democrats reneged on their promises over tuition fees."

Kallum Taylor, President of the Student's Union at the University of York was quick to back the protest: "We have strong concerns about the clear risks potentially facing students past, present and future if the Student Loan Book is sold off. But 'potentially' is the key word here. We're yet to know much detail about the plans which go beyond an article or a comment piece or two - so whilst we sort of know what the threats could be and we know what we would be against, we won't throw anything out immediately before we've seen it."

Universities Minister, David Willetts MP told The Telegraph: "There will be no change to the terms of repayment so students shouldn't be affected the privatisation of their loans."

This article is based on another version originally published in The Telegraph.