reported that two police officers were injured as police held back demonstrators, preventing them from reaching Parliament Square.
A police van was damaged and looted, although some students made efforts to stop the destruction. There were also fires set and barricades thrown at police.
The Metropolitan police said, in a press release
, that three people had been arrested for violent disorder and theft, but that the containment in Whitehall was preventing further criminal damage.
They also said water and toilets would be provided for those in the containment area.
Protesters, upset with the Liberal Democrats for breaking a pledge to vote against higher tuition fees, had planned to demonstrate outside the party’s headquarters.
Speaking on BBC Radio 2, Nick Clegg said
: "I hate in politics, as in life, to make promises that you then find you can't keep... We made a promise we can't deliver - we didn't win the election outright and there are compromises in coalition."
Students have staged occupations at several universities and marches and walkouts have taken part in others.
Students are upset about plans to increase tuition fees in England, to withdraw public funding for university teaching budgets for many subjects, and to remove the education maintenance allowance, which provides students with lower incomes funds to help with the costs of remaining in full-time education.
"It is important to get the message across that we aren't happy about what they are doing to the education budget and the rise in fees,” Lewis Coyne, one of the organisers of a march in Liverpool, told the BBC.
Zoe Williams, one of those who tried to stop the attack on the police van, told Sky News
: "I didn't want other people to get injured - people don't realise that when you rock a van it can fall over. And the cause we are here for today is not about hating the police."
The large protest which took place in London two weeks ago has resulted in 68 arrests.