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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET



UK Approves Tuition Hike, Students Continue to Protest

December 9, 2010 - 2:08 PM | by: Amy Kellogg

Members of Parliament in Britain this evening voted to raise university tuition fees to up to $15,000.   There was a time when there weren’t  But the vote exposed fissures in the government.  Some in the coalition voted against or abstained from voting.  Students have been protesting this proposal for weeks.  And the protests in London today got violent again, in the lead up to the vote.  Students threw sticks, bottles—anything they could get their hands on—at police who were blocking thousands of protesters from breaking into Parliament.  They even hurled pool balls at police.

At one point, police switched into riot gear.  Some dropped their fluorescent vests because they are apparently more flammable.

Two police officers were hurt, with one sustaining neck injuries.  We saw officers beating students back with batons.  And making arrests.  Fires broke out after students hurled flares behind police lines.

This was the prelude to the British Parliament voting today on a plan to raise university tuition by as much as three times.  Currently it is the equivalent of about $4700.  It could ultimately be $15,000.  The bill passed.

Students do have access to loans, and would not have to pay those back until they were making over $30,000 per year.

Still, they are angry that Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, as part of the coalition government, has backed down on his pre-election pledge not to raise tuition fees.  The Daily Mail newspaper called him the “Pathetic Pinocchio of Politics”

It’s really the first test of the coalition government, which by its nature involves compromise.  People will watch to see if this will weaken the government.  And how the students react to the vote over the course of the evening.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary said earlier, “I’d love to be Father Christmas (Santa Claus) and hand out lots of very popular policies and spend lots of money and not have to make difficult decisions but I think trust comes from seeing governments making difficult choices in the national interest, which is what we are having to do.”

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