Tuition Fees Debate

There has apparently been some violence in Westminster today in a protest over university tuition fees.

And MPs have in the last few minutes voted to raise tuition fees to £9000, with a lower limit of £6000.

There was in fact a protest planned in Cirencester today, planned by the Cirencester College SU/Cotswold Liberal Youth. This was called off a few days ago, due to the fact not enough notice was given to Gloucestershire Police. That’s because the law states that 6 says notice must be given for public marches/processions.

However, it seems that it still went ahead. I found out about this as I walked in to the bank in Cirencester on my way to college. Police had closed the roads and I had to wait for the march to move out the way before I could cross the road.

Having finished my trip to the bank, I headed to college for today’s lessons (late start on Thursday = stay at home in the morning). In our Music Tech lesson today (1-2) only 3 people turned up! As I walked up to college for my lessons people continued to walk down, closely followed by police. But, there was no violence (there were 1 or 2 arrests, but generally I think things were peaceful).

There were some interesting discussions on the protest in my IT class this afternoon. Without naming names, one student said that they were never aware that the police had said that anyone who marched in to town would be breaking the law; finding out only after accessing their e-mails. Another reported that, once the protesters had actually got to town, they walked round in circles and ended up in Tesco before going back to college. While another announced that he’d driven in to town at lunchtime, because he was too cold to march.

(And I’m sorry to any members of my IT class who I have quoted – but that’s what happens if you’re not careful when you’ve got a journalist in the room ;))

There are several reasons for me choosing not to protest today:

  1. I don’t really care – I will be starting uni in 2011 and will pay at the current rate (about £3000 a year), regardless of whether the fees rise or not.
  2. Regardless of whether I pay £3000 or £9000 a year, I’ll still end up with a debt which needs paying off.
  3. The unis I’ve chosen all have rather expensive facilities for their radio/journalism courses; they use industry-standard equipment for producing TV and radio programmes which need to be funded somehow.
  4. Do people really think that David Cameron is going to cancel the rise in fees because 200 people have marched through Cirencester town centre?
  5. I like the Conservatives.

Having said that, I’m not convinced that Glos. Police were very sensible to use containment (more colloquially known as “kettling”) in the town centre this lunchtime.

Fred Hart

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