Voluntary Sector: Taking Action ... Student groups vs AC Grayling and the NCH

Protesters: Student groups

Target: AC Grayling and the New College of the Humanities

Location: Foyles bookshop, central London

Date: 7 June

The lowdown

The philosopher AC Grayling appeared at a debate on cuts to the arts at Foyles bookshop in central London, during which time he was shouted down by protesters who exclaimed: 'AC Grayling get out, job cuts, money for the bosses.' At the end of the debate, student protesters set off a smoke bomb which filled the room with pungent red smoke. Organisers were forced to evacuate about 100 people.

Why the protests?

The debate was Grayling's first public appearance since details emerged of his plans to set up NCH, the first private university offering courses for fees of £18,000 a year. Students who attend the private university would be taught by academics such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker. Critics argue it will create an elitist and two-tiered university system in which only the wealthiest students would have access to the best facilities.

How did Grayling respond?

He said later: 'It is always upsetting being the target of attacks. I didn't expect to change minds there because I understand the real anxiety that people feel about higher education.'

How did the media cover it?

The protest gained a lot of national media coverage as it came so soon after major commentary on the NCH.

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