Friday, 10 December 2010

a great british battle

So while we have been battling a thunderstorm here in Nicosia, students in London have been battering Parliament Square. I am somewhat out of the loop over here in Cyprus, but I do know it was the MP's vote last night to decide whether to raise tuition fees. While I don't think tuition fees should be increased, I have a bit of a split opinion on the aftermath of such a proposition. While I agree with the idea of protesting against these parliamentary decisions in practice, I think they have become a joke. The idea of a protest demonstrates the fairness of our society and the idea of freedom of speech, but instead of demonstrating an argument, all i've seen is violence, fighting, and vandalism. Going round London smashing up Topshop windows and Parliament Square only demonstrates one thing to me; that your an idiot.

Defacing statues, breaking windows, attacking royalty and throwing fire bombs, doesn't particularly scream "I want to go to university and educate myself" does it now. The sheer amount of students that turned out speaks volumes in itself, and is a positive reflection on how our society should value education. But the fact that all these demonstrations have turned into chaos turns a positive into a negative. I think people have lost a little bit of perspective; although tuition fees are set to rise, people seem to neglect the fact that it's up to £9,000. Up to, probably meaning the top institutions will charge top whack for their degrees, not every institution. And while I appreciate the anger surrounding the increase of tuition fees in the first place, I have spent the last three years at university watching my tution fees rise every year anyway. 

I don't defend the politicians because I think their actions will deter many people from going to university now, however the situation is still the one I encountered; you apply for a loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees, you graduate, and you pay your loan back when you start earning above the threshold. In an ideal world university education would be free for all. But we don't live in an ideal world; universities run like a business, if we don't pay for our education, who will. The generations experiencing these changes first hand will end up paying more money back than my graduating year, but everyone has to pay back a hefty chunk of future income. I am going to pay back double what my boyfriend will (because the £3,000 a year tuition fees came into effect the year I started my degree) and i'm not happy about that, but you dont see me running round beating up topshop.  

University is further education, if you want to further your education, you have to pay for it. And while I know that's a harsh view, there are actually so many more opportunities for younger generations now. University isn't the be all and end all of progressing through life. If you don't want to pay for education, don't. And while your running round London smashing everything insight, maybe take a moment and think. It doesn't demonstrate anything productive, and if they catch your face on any photographs or film, you're probably not going to be allowed to go to university anyway. 

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