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The University of Southampton
Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Fund our future - student protest

The first national march against cuts to higher education budgets and to raise student fees took place on 10th November 2010. The British Caught in the Act of protest team were out in force on the streets of London surveying the protest. The march, from Horse Guards to Millbank attracted over 50,000 demonstrators. The day will go down in history as the start of a new wave of confrontational protest. It will be remembered for the violent acts of a minority of protesters who smashed windows and occupied the Conservative Party Headquarters at Millbank, making international news.

This was the first violence we had ever witnessed in our surveying. The project team had envisaged a much smaller and considerably more peaceful march. Once we realised how events were unfolding, it was our priority to keep our 17 student volunteers out of harm’s way. Most of our survey team did not witness any violence, for a large proportion of the march was halted at Parliament Square. Those that did witness the first signs of violence were encouraged by researchers to leave the streets and reconvene to a public house.

Emily Rainsford, PhD candidate in PAIR was amongst our volunteers. Dr Saunders jointly supervises her PhD on youth engagement in politics with Professor Gerry Stoker. Emily added some of her own questions to our survey to help her understand why it is that young people engage in protest. We were also helped by Victoria Spau, MSc Global Politics student, who is writing her dissertation on music and protest. Victoria has been conducting qualitative interviews for the project and for her related dissertation on music and protest.

We are pleased to be able to offer our student volunteers the opportunity to analyse data collected on this project as part of their BSc, MSc or Doctoral dissertations.

For details of future research opportunities at the University of Southampton, please contact Dr Clare Saunders at

Audio podcast and student views:

To listen to a podcast introduced by Dr Clare Saunders, Lecturer in Politics & International Relations, and hear the views of participating students, please click on the audio player.


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