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Old 11-10-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
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50,000 UK Students Protest Tuition Fees Hike

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ABC News, Nov. 10


Tens of thousands of students marched through London on Wednesday against plans to triple university tuition fees, and violence erupted as a minority battled police and trashed a building containing the headquarters of the governing Conservative Party.

Organizers said 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters demonstrated against plans to raise the cost of studying at a university to 9,000 pounds ($14,000) a year—three times the current rate—in the largest street protest yet against the government's sweeping austerity measures.

As the march passed a high-rise building that houses Conservative headquarters, some protesters smashed windows as others lit a bonfire of placards outside the building. Office workers were evacuated as several dozen demonstrators managed to get into the lobby, scattering furniture, smashing CCTV cameras, spraying graffiti and chanting "Tories Out," while outside police faced off against a crowd that occasionally hurled food, soda cans and placards. The violence appeared to be carried out by a small group as hundreds of others stood and watched. Anarchist symbols and the words "Tory scum" were spray-painted around the building, and black and red flags flew from atop an office block beside the 29-story Millbank Tower. The Metropolitan Police said, "A small minority of protesters have taken it upon themselves to cause damage to property, whilst the vast majority have peacefully made their point." Organizers condemned the violence. Sally Hunt, general secretary of faculty group the University and College Union, said "the actions of a minority, out of 50,000 people, is regrettable."

Elsewhere, protesters were peaceful but determined. "I am here because it is important that students stand up and shout about what is going on," said Anna Tennant-Siren, a student at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. "Politicians don't seem to care," she said. "They should be taking money from people who earn seven-figure salaries, not from students who don't have any money."

Frances O'Grady, of the Trades Union Congress, said the hike would make colleges "no-go zones for young people from ordinary backgrounds." "This is about turning colleges and universities from learning institutions into finishing schools for the rich," she said.

Britain's Liberal Democrats, who are part of the coalition government with the Conservatives, pledged during the country's election campaign to abolish fees. Protest leaders said they would attempt to use recall powers to oust lawmakers who break campaign promises on the issue. The National Union of Students said it would try to recall legislators from the party who vote in favor on the hike. "We will not tolerate the previous generation passing on its debts to the next, nor will we pick up the bill to access a college and university education that was funded for them," said union President Aaron Porter.

While British tuition fees are modest compared to those at some U.S. colleges, British universities are public institutions. Opponents of the tuition increase have pointed out that Prime Minister David Cameron and other members of the government attended elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge at a time when university education was free.

The previous Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced the first fees for students soon after it was elected in 1997. Scotland abolished tuition fees in 2000, and in the rest of Britain the cost is capped at about 3,000 pounds ($4,800) a year. Prime Minister David Cameron's government plans to triple that and cut funding to universities as it strives to slash 81 billion pounds ($128 billion) from public expenditure over the next four years.
Regrettable hooliganism of the predictable "anarchist" hangers-on aside--why aren't American students engaging in similar protests, and organizing to put the pressure on their elected officials? Everyone agrees the cost of a public university education here constitutes a crisis. But nothing will happen without the citizens most directly affected--the students--leading the charge. Parents won't lead the charge, because they fear to protest the costs is to say "Raise my taxes," and because once their children graduate, paying off the remaining loans will be their children's problem, not theirs. Faculty won't lead the charge because they fear becoming the prime target of 'crisis mode' cost-efficiency measures. Politicians have no reason to lift a finger, so long as the issue doesn't appear to be inspiring much passion from their constituents. How much worse will things have to get?
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Old 11-10-2010, 02:06 PM   #2
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We go through the same shit in Quebec every year. Not enough public money for major universities (Université de Montréal especially), but fellow students protest every year to keep tuition low (currently, what, around 4500$ for a regular fall/winter university year?). Cheap education is great, but not when it compromises the integrity of the knowledge you're graduating with.

McGill University is fine thanks to old money and private donors, but the other three universities in Montreal are not doing great financially.

Low tuition that will eventually go up just makes me want to get my degree done and get the hell out.
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by yolland View Post
Regrettable hooliganism of the predictable "anarchist" hangers-on aside--why aren't American students engaging in similar protests, and organizing to put the pressure on their elected officials? Everyone agrees the cost of a public university education here constitutes a crisis. But nothing will happen without the citizens most directly affected--the students--leading the charge. Parents won't lead the charge, because they fear to protest the costs is to say "Raise my taxes," and because once their children graduate, paying off the remaining loans will be their children's problem, not theirs. Faculty won't lead the charge because they fear becoming the prime target of 'crisis mode' cost-efficiency measures. Politicians have no reason to lift a finger, so long as the issue doesn't appear to be inspiring much passion from their constituents. How much worse will things have to get?
We don't matter to politicians, that's why.
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:27 PM   #4
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How many rants have we heard in here about small blocs of the electorate wielding disproportionate influence because they yell the loudest? (And college students aren't even a small group, anyhow.) No one's issues matter Just Because; that's not how representative democracy works.
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Old 11-10-2010, 04:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by yolland View Post
How many rants have we heard in here about small blocs of the electorate wielding disproportionate influence because they yell the loudest? (And college students aren't even a small group, anyhow.) No one's issues matter Just Because; that's not how representative democracy works.
I think a University would hold more political sway than the sum of it's students. Also, when both sides of the aisle are in favor of the tuition increase, to whom does a protest really appeal to that can do anything about it?
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:57 PM   #6
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The university does indeed hold the political power. The state government doesn't want to increase appropriations because they can't. The university needs more money so that it can build more buildings and shit like that (there are currently four on campus right now). So, the tuition's increasing. What can we do? Politicians don't listen to college students. Representatives in this area won't listen because half of the people won't even live in this area by the time the votes occur. Our university, who holds the power and the money, doesn't agree with its students, otherwise it wouldn't be constantly raising money.

We have no political power. A "Rally to Restore Affordability" isn't going to happen because it would accomplish nothing.
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:13 PM   #7
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Why would anybody want a college degree?

Does it have any value?
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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a degree is nothing more than a $50,000 or more piece of paper that qualifies you to get a decent job (but doesnt guarantee you'll get it).

not only is it a pretty much useless piece of paper, but the "education" you get will most likely have nothing to do with your field.

for example, my criminology degree has absolutely NOTHING to do with my current law enforcement position. i use ZERO percent of the little bit i remember from college.

to me it's a system that gets you a very small bang for your buck, other than having the opportunity to get in MASSIVE debt very early in life.
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by bigjohn2441 View Post
a degree is nothing more than a $50,000 or more piece of paper that qualifies you to get a decent job (but doesnt guarantee you'll get it).

not only is it a pretty much useless piece of paper, but the "education" you get will most likely have nothing to do with your field.
So if that's true, then why do so many jobs you look for nowadays make a big fuss over, "College degree a MUST" or a "requirement" or whatever? It was insanely frustrating, when looking for work this past summer, to have to narrow my job options down so much because I didn't have the degree requirements necessary to even get considered for such a job. There was a full-time job at the public library I would've LOVED to take. One whose job description was the EXACT SAME STUFF I did when I worked at the public library in the town I lived in in Wyoming, and which would've paid incredibly well, too. And yet they said an arts degree was "preferred" for this job (didn't seem to be an issue in Wyoming). I applied regardless, on the off chance my actual experience might be helpful, but...no. And all I would've essentially been doing would be shelving books and organizing the materials and things of that sort. Yeah. Can really see why a college degree was so important to do THAT. Very, very annoying and confusing.

And then because their options are narrowed down so much, people wind up only being able to find part-time work, which, even if they like their job (which I do), isn't exactly going to be enough to get them that far ahead.

PhilsFan is right, politicians don't seem to be all that concerned with our generation and its issues surrounding this stuff, save for Obama and maybe a couple other interested souls here and there. But then again, if we don't make it known that this IS a problem, how are they going to know? We have to do what the people in London are doing. Only, without the violence, of course. We have to start making noise about this issue.

Angela
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:59 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bigjohn2441 View Post
a degree is nothing more than a $50,000 or more piece of paper that qualifies you to get a decent job (but doesnt guarantee you'll get it).

not only is it a pretty much useless piece of paper, but the "education" you get will most likely have nothing to do with your field.

for example, my criminology degree has absolutely NOTHING to do with my current law enforcement position. i use ZERO percent of the little bit i remember from college.

to me it's a system that gets you a very small bang for your buck, other than having the opportunity to get in MASSIVE debt very early in life.
wow.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:54 PM   #11
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for example, my criminology degree has absolutely NOTHING to do with my current law enforcement position. i use ZERO percent of the little bit i remember from college.
Really 0%? I know they are at different ends of the spectrum but in the same field, you don't think you apply a certain amount of what you learned there in your job now?

I'm not being argumentative just honestly curious.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:08 PM   #12
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Really 0%? I know they are at different ends of the spectrum but in the same field, you don't think you apply a certain amount of what you learned there in your job now?
nope. none.

criminology is the study of crime and WHY people commit crimes. it is more of a social science of the mind.

in my field, we dont give a shit about theory or WHY people commit crime. and "crime" for us is immigration and customs violations, not the general "crime" as discussed in criminology. we dont care WHY they commit the violations, we just do what we're told and enforce the law.

so, yeah 0%. i dont think about Bentham's rational choice theory when im chasing an illegal (or "undocumented worker" for the easily offended) through the bush do i?
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:39 PM   #13
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Why would anybody want a college degree?

Does it have any value?
I'm not eligible for work in most white collar fields without a degree.
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:09 PM   #14
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Regrettable hooliganism of the predictable "anarchist" hangers-on aside--why aren't American students engaging in similar protests, and organizing to put the pressure on their elected officials? Everyone agrees the cost of a public university education here constitutes a crisis. But nothing will happen without the citizens most directly affected--the students--leading the charge. Parents won't lead the charge, because they fear to protest the costs is to say "Raise my taxes," and because once their children graduate, paying off the remaining loans will be their children's problem, not theirs. Faculty won't lead the charge because they fear becoming the prime target of 'crisis mode' cost-efficiency measures. Politicians have no reason to lift a finger, so long as the issue doesn't appear to be inspiring much passion from their constituents. How much worse will things have to get?

Because, Americans shop around for their career courses beyond high school. There are so many technical schools, universities and etc. They actually compete with each other. Some professions require a degree, others a certification. Plus there is financial aid, low interest loans.
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:20 PM   #15
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Because, Americans shop around for their career courses beyond high school. There are so many technical schools, universities and etc. They actually compete with each other. Some professions require a degree, others a certification. Plus there is financial aid, low interest loans.
Financial aid and low interest loans don't make a dent in it.

And it's hardly competitive. My university doesn't care if some people won't go due to the costs; the freshman class represents less than 10% of the applicants.
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