Yesterday the majority of students that arrived in London for a protest against rising university tuition fees followed a peaceful path. However, a minority number moved the focus away from the purpose of the protest to an eruption of unnecessary violence. Outside the Tory party headquarters the windows were broken and student protestors entered the building throwing items off the roof. They also lit fires in the street and threw missiles at police.
The scene was broadcasted around the world as things changed from a story of protest to a story of violence. Many local journalists have been less than supportive of the student’s and their mission to bring attention to the possible three-fold increase to tuition fees. All due to the actions of a few of the thousands that remained focused on the task at hand the issue of the protest has died down to the depths of articles to be a side note to the violence.
England has a need to assure that there are more and more graduates ready to take on highly skilled jobs, skilled teachers to guide the students in years ahead, and researchers to discover new technology and create jobs for generations. That can’t be done if very few can afford a higher education. Jobs will go to those that move into the country and are educated elsewhere or companies will be forced to move out of the country to meet their workforce needs. In an economy where the majority of students are facing high debt and being told that jobs are scarce, news that tuition hikes are inevitable is reason enough to take up a sign and march in numbers.
The violence was not part of the plan according to National Union of Students president Aaron Porter, who referred to the violence as “despicable”. Porter said: “This action was by others who have come out and used this opportunity to hijack a peaceful protest.”
The new budget cuts will include a 40% cut to teaching grants. The plan is to put a lower cap at £6,000 with a charge up cap of £9,000. Research by the Higher Education Policy Institute has suggested that eventually all universities will charge tuition fees of £9,000 despite some schools finding it difficult to recruit students already. The report says: “Those institutions that are over-subscribed will charge £9,000 without hesitation.
“Those that have struggled to recruit students will initially be more cautious, but, within a few years, we believe that almost all universities will charge the maximum fee.”