Students urge protests must remain peaceful

Approximately 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters stood in London this past Wednesday in protest of rising university tuition fees.  The U.K. government plans to eliminate the current tuition cap (currently at 3,920 pounds or approximately $6,300) and raise fees up to three times the amount.

However, this would also require universities to give greater assistance to poorer students, pulling funds from the increased income. Additionally, the Student Loans Company, a UK public sector organization, currently does not require loan repayment until the individual earns a certain salary amount (15,000 pounds or approximately $24,200).  In comparison, colleges in the United States can cost $50,000+ a year, and loan repayments usually start six months after one drops below full-time status (either from graduation, dropping classes, leaving school, etc).

Regardless of where one stands on the tuition increase though, the protest clearly demonstrated the situation’s importance on a domestic level.   And unfortunately, such rampant emotions led to violence during the protest: vandalism, fires, assault on police, and even objects hurled into the crowd from those standing on rooftops.

Among the 50,000 at the protest was the Student Christian Movement, who (as reported) felt a protest was necessary as tuition fees are an “issue of justice.”  Still, they also urge the importance of expressing one’s anger in a “peaceful and constructive way.” They insist, “The handful of violent demonstrators should not distract us from the real issue, which is that access to higher education would become unfair under the proposed system.”