SANTIAGO Ė Thousands of students marched Tuesday in Santiago against a government-backed bill that aims to reform Chileís higher education system.
Nearly 300,000 students took to the streets to demand that the legislation be scrapped, organizers said.
A few clashes with police were reported during the march, which was organized by the Chilean Students Confederation (CONFECH) and other groups, and was joined by several dozen professors.
Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons against hooded protesters at different points during the march.
Protesters urged President Michelle Bacheletís administration to pull the bill, which is to be debated by the Chamber of Deputiesí education committee on Tuesday.
Students have been calling since 2011 for free, quality higher education, an issue that Bachelet made part of her campaign platform.
Students, however, oppose the administrationís proposals, arguing that they retain too many market-based elements.
Protests were also held in the cities of Concepcion, Arica, Temuco and Puerto Montt, but no incidents were reported.
Lawmakers Gabriel Boric and Giorgio Jackson, both former student leaders, participated in the march in Valparaiso, where Congress has its seat.