PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has cancelled a visit to Melbourne's Deakin University amid safety fears as students protest against cuts in his government's first budget.

Mr Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne were cancelled the visit originally planned for today due to nation-wide protests against cuts to government funding for courses and the deregulation of fees.

Mr Pyne told ABC TV last night that advice from the Australian Federal Police had raised safety concerns "particularly for innocent bystanders".

He said Mr Abbott's office had cancelled the trip so students could continue their studies "unmolested by the Socialist Alternative, which seem quite intent on shutting down democracy in Australia".

The protests were planned for Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra today, against a cut of about 20% to public funding for university courses and deregulation.

A statement from the National Union of Students said the group "unequivocally rejects" the government's agenda, revealed in the budget, urging students to attend protests to "Tell Abbott and Pyne: Hands off our education".

The changes to higher education will, however, need to pass the Senate outside of the normal budget bills process, and with The Greens, Clive Palmer and Labor opposing the cuts, the government seems unlikely to pass them at this stage.

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