STAFF and students at a North-East university joined forces to protest about bad pay and spiralling debts yesterday.

Newcastle University lecturers and post-graduates combined to demand a better deal on higher education from the Government.

Members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT), Unison and university students marched from Northumberland Street, finishing with a rally in Grainger Street.

Protestors attacked the Government's recent announcement of extra cash for higher education as "inadequate".

George Reeves, president of Newcastle University AUT, said: "The recent initiatives are to be welcomed but are inadequate, misdirected and in some aspects inappropriate, disingenuous and misleading.

"Staff are saying they have had enough. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that staff are still underpaid and badly treated, and that students are getting increasingly into debt.

"Our country's future depends on the success of our higher education institutions, and it is in everyone's interest to ensure that they remain so.

"We are calling on the vice-chancellors to grasp these issues and deliver positive changes for the benefit of all."

l North-East universities are to get a £125m boost to develop scientific research. Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Byers said the cash would be shared between research programmes at 16 universities around the country, including Durham and Newcastle