On December 9th, demonstrators gathered in central London to protest the tuition increases. Tuition has been previously capped off at £3290, $5264. The government’s education proposals that the students have been protesting against would allow universities to charge £6000 to £9000, or between $9,600 to $14,400. These numbers represent tuition alone. Students in the United Kingdom are angry because this either doubles or triples the cost of tuition. They are also angry because Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) had adopted a position during his election campaign that stated tuition fees would be disastrous.
In November, there had been a major demonstration that protested the tuition increases. On this occasion, demonstrators were “kettled” (a British term used in a police context meaning to contain demonstrators to a confined area) and the protest turned violent. During the December 9th protest, violence escalated when demonstrators deviated from the agreed demonstration route and the police force responded by adopting riot gear. The kettling started at 3:30 pm and continued until 10:00 pm, during which time 50 people injured (demonstrators and police officers alike), the Treasury and supreme court buildings were damaged, and an attack was made on Prince Charles’ car as it drove though the crowd.
The tuition increases were ultimately approved, but as a result of the “Decembrists” (the December 9th demonstrators) efforts, a majority of the Liberal-Democratic party in Parliament voted against the increases. Kettling has also been repeatedly denounced as a police tactic by members of the UK population and a human rights organization, Liberty, has brought formal charges against Scotland Yard because of the violence used against teenagers during the protest.
The parallels between what is now happening in the UK and what happened last year in California are striking—the debate over the accessibility of higher education, the right to free speech and to protest, and issues with police violence are prevalent in discussions of tuition increases, no matter where the location. So, what are the ramifications? Watch the video below to hear one young man’s interpretation of a possible paradigm shift of our so-called post-ideological generation.
Political commentary of a student (fifteen years old, impressive nonetheless): Video– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U_gHUiL4P8