U.K. students riot over tuition hike - Macleans.ca

U.K. students riot over tuition hike

Removing cap makes universities ‘finishing schools for the rich’


Violence broke out as thousands of students took to the streets of London today to protest the government’s plan to increase post-secondary tuition three times the current rates, reported the Associated Press.

“I am here because it is important that students stand up and shout about what is going on,” Anna Tennant-Siren, a student at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, told reporters. “Politicians don’t seem to care. They should be taking money from people who earn seven-figure salaries, not from students who don’t have any money.”

A proposal put forth in British Parliament on Nov. 3 calls for the removal of the current tuition cap of 3,000 pounds and would allow some universities to charge up to 9,000 pounds per year.

Students are outraged, saying the hikes will prevent youth from low-income families from attending post-secondary.

“This is about turning colleges and universities from learning institutions into finishing schools for the rich,” Frances O’Grady, of the Trades Union Congress, told the Associated Press. She added that universities would be “no-go zones for young people from ordinary backgrounds.”

Others feel betrayed by some elected Liberal Democrats who publically pledged during the recent election to not allow university fees to go up and discussed trying to recall politicians who approve the increase.

The Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in May. Tuition fees have only existed in Britain since 1997, when newly-elected Tony Blair implemented the first fees. Scotland’s fees were abolished in 2000.

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