Thursday, February 26, 2009

UK students protest over tuiton fees

Yesterday a coalition of student groups from campuses across Britain, including the Socialist Students Organisation and the Communist Students Organisation, held a protest over rising tuition fees in British universities. The protest was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, like Birkbeck part of the University of London and located right next to Birkbeck.

In the UK, the government has placed a cap of £3,145 on tuition fees that universities can charge. Nearly all the universities charge very close to this maximum. In the words of one of the protest's sponsors, "Education Not for Sale was founded in September 2005 as a network of anti-capitalist students fighting for free education." Here's a preview article from yesterday's Guardian.

Like many protests, this one appeared to have more onlookers than active protestors. I would estimate that there were maybe 75 or 100 students actively chanting and carrying signs, and many others taking pictures and just watching. There was also a strong contingent of security personnel, including both the London Met police and private security forces. The protest was mostly a bunch of chanting, primarily calling for the removal of tuition fees and returning to free education. It apparently didn't receive much media attention, as I didn't find any articles in the London papers today.

While student protests over tuition are not unknown in the U.S., what was different about this is how the students from across a number of universities came together to organize.

I've posted below some of the signs held by students at the protest. You can find more pictures on my Facebook page.

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