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Thousands of students have taken to the streets of central London today in an organised protest against the financial burden facing youngsters starting university.

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The march started at Temple Place this morning, before heading across Victoria Embankment to a rally in Kennington Park planned for this afternoon, in which union leaders will speak.

As a result, Westminster Bridge is closed in both directions between the Victoria Embankment junction and the Lambeth Palace Road junction.

The event is the first one to be held in London since more than 50,000 people, including many lecturers, took part in a demonstration in 2010 which was marred by violent clashes with police.

National Union of Students president Liam Burns said there were strong feelings on campuses around the country about education reforms, including the move to treble tuition fees and financial support for students as well as youth unemployment.

“Today’s students know they are going to be “tens of thousands of pounds in debt before they even graduate and they know there’s little prospect of graduate employment,” he said.

“There’s a sense of desperation that people have. They’re slowly seeing opportunities being taken away and are powerless to do anything about it.”

Chief Inspector Audrey Shannon said a condition under section 12 of Public Order Act had been placed on a march planned in Malet Street this morning

“The proposed route the organisers were planning would, at this late stage, have caused serious disruption to the community. The organisers have been advised of this.”

Follow the progress of the march on Twitter using the hashtag #demo2012

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