STUDENTS set off flares and marched in protest against "abusive" police presence on a university campus.

At the demonstration at the University of Sussex in Falmer yesterday, students gathered in Library Square, calling on the university to "keep cops off campus".

Speeches were heard, in which one masked student said they "no longer feel safe on our own campus, or in our own accommodation", and demanded greater action to tackle sexual assaults.

The protesters held a sit-in on campus and chanted "Say it loud, say it clear, Sussex Police are not welcome here".

Student campaign group Reclaim Sussex Campus organised the protest, along with the University of Sussex Rent Strike.

Dozens of notes were left on university buildings which read "Join the rent strike" and "Fifty per cent off rent".

The campaign group has stated that almost 700 students have joined the rent strike, and they are demanding a 50 per cent reduction for the academic year, amid the pandemic.

The Argus: Photo: Eddie MitchellPhoto: Eddie Mitchell

Writing on Twitter, one student said: "Great to have been at the ReclaimSussex and SussexRU demo yesterday.

"So much collective solidarity and the need to make lives for students better here at Sussex Uni.

"They can’t ignore us forever."

Another said they were protesting against "the intrusive and abusive police presence on campus, inaction against sexual abuse and horrific excuse for student accommodation".

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the protest "passed off peacefully and without incident".

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: "Some students took part in a demonstration on our campus at the weekend and we support their right to protest peacefully, when observing the law and Covid safety guidelines.”

The Argus: Photo: Eddie MitchellPhoto: Eddie Mitchell

The protest comes less than a month after a video emerged which appeared to show a young woman being forcefully pushed against a police car by an officer as she was arrested on campus.

Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell described the footage as "very disturbing" and said it "appeared to involve a young woman of colour".

The university immediately raised concerns with Sussex Police and said the video was being reviewed "alongside additional footage of the incident".

The force defended its actions following the incident, which happened during the early hours on Thursday, March 26.

Police had been called by university security staff to reports of a gathering of about 60 people in breach of coronavirus legislation.

The Argus: Photo: Eddie MitchellPhoto: Eddie Mitchell

A spokesman said the "short video clips do not show the full circumstances of the entire incident".

He added: "Our officers will always seek to engage and encourage people to comply before moving to use lawful and proportionate force, as a last resort.

"We are liaising with the University of Sussex as to the circumstances and to provide reassurance that our priority remains the safety of the public, as well that of our officers and staff."