The Students are Getting Angry
Students have been on the march in the UK this week. They are angry that the coalition government has decided to put up university tuition fees from around £3k to around £9k a year and to cut an allowance for those studying in further education. The main reason they are angry is that one party in the coalition government, the Liberal Democrats, pledged throughout the election to abolish tuition fees. It's a bit of a turnaround, to say the least.
However, the story of that betrayal was not the one the media focused on. The demonstration got rather heated and resulted in the Conservative Party headquarters being besieged and a fire extinguisher thrown from the roof. For the media, the violence was the only story in town. The head of the student union was wheeled onto every news program to apologize for the violence.
It is rather typical of media coverage of demonstrations in the UK. Either they don't get covered because there is no violence or they only get covered because there is violence. No wonder people feel a little bit frustrated.
On the BBC's flagship political debate program, Question Time, politicians were able to divert the whole discussion on student fees away from the issues. At one point a member of the public asked whether any of the successful middle class panel members had had to pay tuition fees. The question remained unanswered. Of course they didn't. None of us paid tuition fees in the past and many of us got a full maintenance grant.
But now the cupboard is bare. There are more students going into higher education and we don't have enough people paying tax or enough tax being paid [whichever way you choose to look at it] to support those numbers without someone somewhere having to pay for it, so students have to pay. They earn more as a result, we are told, and they won't have to pay any money back till they earn over £21k.Continued on the next page