The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 49      December 27, 2010

Thousands in London
protest tuition raises
LONDON—Thousands of students demonstrated here outside Parliament December 9 against the government proposal to increase university tuition fees in England.

Since the first national demonstration November 10 (see the November 29 Militant) there have been more than 30 occupations of campus buildings by students. Some took the form of “all-night study-ins” while others were more prolonged. Two further days of action received support around the country with demonstrations in a number of cities from Edinburgh to Brighton that involved students from universities, colleges, and schools, as well as education workers.

The government’s austerity program cuts funds for higher education by 40 percent as part of a sweeping assault that includes raising the retirement age, slashing government jobs, reducing housing funds, and other cutbacks.

Maximum annual tuition will rise to 9,000 (US$14,190), nearly three times the current level. Students also oppose big cuts to university teaching budgets and the removal of education allowances for low-income students.

“These proposals will triple student debt, effectively end all public investment in arts and humanities courses and, crucially, put off students from poorer backgrounds from going to university,” said Liz Rawlings, president of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association.

In a letter to the National Union of Students, Deputy Prime Minister Nicholas Clegg said the new system is “in line with our fair, progressive values.” David Willets, universities minister, said, "The package is fair … and affordable for the nation."

Thousands of students marched through London on the day of the vote, with cops preventing many from joining the main protest in Parliament Square. Some demonstrators, who did not have the backing of most of the students there, smashed the windows of the Treasury building. The car driving Charles Windsor, heir to the British throne and future head of state, was attacked by a few of the protesters.

The government and the police have used these incidents to call for tougher policing. Police officials have urged the authorities to consider making water cannons available for the first time in Britain. (They have been used in northern Ireland since the 1970s.)

The London Times denounced the cops’ “incompetence” and warned, that “with more cuts to come … the police must be far more ruthless.” Prime Minister David Cameron called for applying the “full force of the law.” So far, 175 arrests have been made coming out of the demonstrations in London.
Related articles:
Quebec students rally against fee increases  
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