On Thursday night, after five hours of debate, the British Parliament approved a tripling of tuition fees for English universities. Beginning in 2012 the tuition cap will raise from 3,000 pounds to 9,000 pounds, or $14,000.
Coupled with the new legislation was increased grants for poorer students, who can receive up to two years free tuition, and conditions placed on universities that prevent them from raising fees beyond 6,000 pounds unless they enact policies to encourage students from all backgrounds to attend. Students in Scotland and Wales will not be facing similar increases.
The day was also marked by rioting on the part of student protesters. By some reports, 30,000 students had descended on London in opposition of the vote. “In chaotic running battles with a mob, one mounted officer was knocked from his horse, another suffered a serious neck injury and others were attacked with flares, sticks, snooker balls and smoke bombs,” the Telegraph reported. “One student urinated on the Winston Churchill statue in the square, which was also daubed with offensive graffiti, including messages saying ‘racist warmonger’ and ‘Churchill was a —-.’
Hundreds of protesters broke through barriers where 1,000 officers were guarding Parliament sqaure. Flares were lit and benches were set on fire. In the evening a group of about 20 protesters wielding hammers smashed telephone booth windows.
At one point, a car carrying Prince Charles and wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked. Paint was thrown on the car and a window was smashed with a brick.
The clean up is expected to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.