Friday, December 10, 2010

The Vote Against Higher Education

Yesterday, in the UK, a parliamentary vote on the fees hike was expectedly carried through by 323 votes to 302, and the Government's majority of 84 was cut to just 21 in a backbench rebellion, its lowest since the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition was formed.

Only 28 Lib Dem MPs – less than half – voted for the government's plans for tuition fees (21 had voted ‘No’ and 8 either abstained or were absent). Also, six Tory MPs voted against and another two abstained. Even so, it wasn’t enough to defeat the vote.

The plan to raise fees – to almost treble to ₤9,000 a year – will apply to students in England. Welsh students will not pay the higher rate of fees, even at universities in England. In Scotland there are no tuition fees – and Northern Ireland has still to decide how it will respond to any fee rise in England.

It seemed that students had come from around the country and had been joined by other people including lecturers and parents. In angry scenes, protesters battled with police in Parliament Square and at one point, mounted police charged a group of protestors.

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And I don’t think the protests will cease now that the vote has been taken. Students’ futures are at stake – they have to fight on. This is not just about student fees. This is an ideological issue. The UK Government is hell-bent on attacking the working class because they are vulnerable.

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