The allowance helps 16 to 19 year olds from poorer backgrounds to stay in education by paying £10 to £30 a week to cover travel and course costs.
Research by the Universities and Colleges Union found that 70% of students receiving the EMA would have to drop out of their course if it was withdrawn.
The protests are taking place the day before UNISON members will lobby a debate in Parliament, forced by the Labour party, in which MPs will vote on a motion that calls on the government to rethink its plans to scrap the allowance.
Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham joined UNISON members in Newham, in Sunderland students handed out cookies with a ‘save EMA’ message, whilst in Dudley organisers expected over 500 students and members of the public to attend a rally in support of the allowance.
The protests and lobby are being organised by UNISON, UCU, NUS, NUT, NASUWT, ATL, Unite, GMB and the Save EMA campaign.