I JOINED Dorset students for an inspiring and at times alarming march through the streets of London.

There were scuffles and tense moments but it was mostly peaceful and police reported just six arrests.

The National Union of Students did not take part and the crowd was a few thousand strong, compared to as many as 50,000 in the pre-Christmas demonstrations.

The overwhelming majority were friendly young people who feared the fees and cuts would hurt ordinary people and damage society as whole.

Harriet Evans, 20, from Parkstone in Poole, was studying English Literature at the University of Sussex.

She invoked the memory of how popular protests overthrew the poll tax, and said demonstrations needed “a certain amount of agitation”.

She added: “You will have the elite and the other classes won’t be able to afford to better themselves. It’s terrifying.”

Maya Avis, 19, from Ringwood, studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies, said: “I feel education and health care are fundamental rights, the most important things to society.”

I joined the march from noon at the University of London Union where you could buy left-wing newspapers of every kind.

A black-clad 23-year-old from Parkstone, who did not want to give his name, said he had been occupying lecture halls at Plymouth University.

He expected the demonstrations to grow in the future as the cuts take effect.

He was protesting because: “I am in favour of social mobility and I am against the Tory government walking all over the working classes.”

He correctly predicted the police would not kettle people again after controversy in the past.

From what I saw their behaviour was impeccable. The officers were impassive but friendly if you spoke to them.

A minority of protesters – usually the black-clad anarchists – tried to provoke them.

There was some scuffling and one arrest outside Tory party HQ in Millbank during a half hearted attempt to break the police lines, and the letters of one Royal Bank of Scotland branch were pulled off, and one thrown through a window.

Some protesters tried to kettle a line of police vans.

They blocked one end by playing Twister in street, and set up a human roadblock at the other, until the police forcefully pushed them away.

As we marched, one protester in a boiler suit was drinking a can of Stella Artois and chanting the name of a man who killed a police officer.

When I asked him why he wanted to do that, another friend, booze on his breath, became intense, demanded to know who I was, and began to square up to me, until I produced my press card.

The chanter apologised and said he was angry at being the victim of police violence on previous demonstrations.

Most people were happy to chant about David Cameron, talk about politics, and enjoy the drums and music.

Rob Thoyts, 46, originally from Lymington, now a lecturer at the University of Central London, argued that businesses benefit from a more educated workforce and should pay more towards higher education.

The crowd split up and several hundred of us walked through the roads without a policeman in sight, holding up traffic, but still getting honks of support from many motorists.

James Wilkes, 30, from Lilliput in Poole, was studying for a PhD at Birkbeck College.

He said the provocation of the police was “really sad” and that the vast majority of people wanted to express themselves peacefully.

He said: “It’s really important people to realise these policies won’t just hurt students but everyone.”

Everyone converged on the Egyptian embassy around 3pm where a 300-400 Egyptians were chanting, singing their national anthem, or making nervous phone calls with loved ones in their homeland.

I left around 4.30pm, as a few hundred remaining protesters milled around small bonfires made of placards, and knots of anarchists sloped off into the side streets, pursued by watchful police.