12/22/2010 03:40 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Italian Students Protest Budget Cuts (PHOTOS)


Thousands of Italian students took to the streets Wednesday to protest higher education budget cuts, reports Deutsche Welle.

Although students made clear their intentions to keep the rally under control, police set up blockades in Rome to prevent a repeat of the violent demonstrations that took place last week. They could not prevent protesters from flooding part of a highway outside of the city, but the gathering remained peaceful, according to Al Jazeera.

Gatherings in Milan and Sardinia were also uneventful, but early reports state that clashes occurred in Sicilian capital Palermo -- where students started throwing bottles and stones at police when they met resistance upon trying to enter a government building, and police responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. Al Jazeera adds that incidents took place in Naples, Turin and Milan as well.

Protests that took place last Tuesday took a turn for the worse when students learned that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly won support from both parliamentary houses in his plan to merge smaller universities and ditching a number of academic programs. The news prompted students to torch cars, break windows and enter into conflict with police. Close to 200 were injured.

Students expect to hear final word about the cuts Wednesday or Thursday.