Nov 22, 2010
On November 10, some fifty thousand students invaded the center of London to protest rising costs in education.
The numbers completely surprised the organizers, including a group tied to the right of the Labor Party. The police were not even in sight when the students briefly blocked the entrance to the Conservative Party headquarters.
The organizers called the protest against a government commission reporting on problems in financing higher education. Led by a former CEO of British Petroleum, the commission proposed to triple what students had to pay toward their education costs – even if the costs went up to about $14,000 per year, triple what costs had been. And the increase in costs would apply to all branches of higher education, after the government had already done away with most scholarships that aided students from lower income levels.
What it means, given the high cost of living in most university towns, is that students would run up debt approaching $65,000 for three years. And interest would be added to the debt, despite special conditions for those who earn lower wages once they start working.
In brief, the costs are really a form of discrimination in favor of those whose families are rich enough to afford the costs of higher education.
In the past, the low tuition allowed some children from working class backgrounds to attend universities and colleges. No wonder there was such an outburst of anger at the London demonstration.
Throughout Britain, many workers saw with pleasure this outbreak from the young against the prime minister and his new financial initiatives. Another demonstration is planned in several different cities for November 24.
Perhaps the government’s plans will provoke a British student movement not seen since the 1960s.