Thursday, January 20, 2011

British College Students Protest Tuition Hike in the U.K. – So What are American Students Waiting For?

When I was in high school – junior high, even – I dreamed about college. I dreamed about being able to attend on a scholarship and make a life for myself that most of my family never thought possible for themselves. I spent years perusing college books and catalogs, essentially shopping for the perfect university in the perfect location. Sadly, no one ever advised me to spend as much time looking for a scholarship. Sadly, no one ever quite impressed upon me just how expensive college is, and just how much money I would have to somehow produce out of thin air to be able to attend the college of my dreams. Yeah, there were a few full scholarships available to some of the brightest. Brightest equaled and still equals "Bright and brilliant test takers." Tough luck for the "Bright but sucky test takers." I fell into the latter category: excellent student (in advanced courses, straight A’s) but average test taker.

So, like many students of my generation, I got stuck with some student loans for undergrad. I didn’t end up at the school of my dreams (Brandeis) because I couldn’t afford it, although I got in. I ended up at a tiny private liberal arts in the middle of the Ozarks, and when I look back on it, it was absolutely the best college experience a student could hope for. A top notch education that left me with manageable student loan debt. My loans from undergrad don’t compare to what I’ve heard from others.

Then, I managed to get into grad school on a fellowship, no money out of my pocket. And, while in grad school, I realized that this is how school should be. Free. That’s right. If they can do it in Germany and elsewhere, we can do it here. Free, state-funded higher education. After all, the right to an education should not be denied to anyone. But when we make education unobtainable (and undesirable, even) by virtue of being unaffordable, we deprive people of that right.

When the British government announced that it would hike tuition to 9,000 pounds ($14,000) a year, triple what it had been (something around 3,000 pounds), students took to the streets and parliament. They protested. That’s right. Students actually said, “Holy shit, it’s gonna cost me a kidney just to get an education. That ain’t right.” And they rallied together.

Some Americans might view the reactions of the British students with amusement. “$14,000?” we might scoff and laugh, “I’m paying 30 f-ing thousand a year! What a bunch of wimps!” But guess what? We are the wimps. We are the wimps for letting our government, the parasitic banks that profit from our student loan debt, and the equally parasitic universities that profit from their relationship with the banks from which we take our loans…we are the wimps for letting these institutions screw us and cripple us with debt that some of us will never be able to repay. See, the British students’ reaction stem from the fact that they, like those in several European countries, are accustomed to paying very little (very little compared to us, anyway) and, in some places, nothing for a higher education.

In Germany, for instance, colleges (although they are not colleges in the sense that we understand them) are mostly free – while some students have to pay around 500 Euros ($650) per semester in administrative and tuition fees. In Britain, tuition generally ran about 3,000 pounds a year ($6,000) in contrast. Still cheaper than the U.S – hell, most students here would be lucky to pay $6,000 a semester at a 4-year university, public or private (unless you pay in-state tuition). My undergrad, a private school, was always around $8,000 per semester and that was in the early and mid-2000s. Nonresident undergrad tuition at the University of Iowa, for instance, is currently $11,000 per semester. I won’t even mention how much my law school tuition is – hint, it’s ungodly.

Because I think every human being has a right to an education, I think it is unacceptable to let our government, banks, and universities continue to infringe upon that right by making education unaffordable, by every year jacking up the tuition. I have been more fortunate than some others, able to get scholarships and fellowships throughout all of my education. But I am no less infuriated about the loans that I racked up in undergrad and that I'm now piling up for my living expenses. I am no less infuriated about the lonas and debt that my classmates have racked up and continue to rack up. Nothing can justify forcing students into lifelong debt for the sake of an education, something which we all need to survive and to grow in this ever-changing world. A serious and enduring student protest against such injustice and greed is long overdue. British students are protesting and fighting this outrageousness. So, what are American students waiting for?


  1. When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get several e-mails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Also visit my webpage; make money from home free
    Also see my web page :: how to earn money online

  2. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you're using? I'm looking to
    start my own blog soon but I'm having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique.
    P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had
    to ask!

    my webpage ... Easy ways To make money fast

  3. Fantastic website. Lots of useful information here. I am sending
    it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thank you to your effort!

    My web-site ::

  4. Hey there! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when browsing from my iphone4. I'm trying to find a template or plugin that might
    be able to resolve this issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Many thanks!

    my web page; free online ways to make money

  5. Hello there! I could have sworn I've visited this web site before but after going through many of the posts I realized it's new to me.

    Regardless, I'm certainly happy I discovered it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    my page ... how to earn online money

  6. Hello there! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I'm trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve
    this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Appreciate it!

    Look at my blog post :: binary options brokers

  7. After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment
    is added I get four emails with the same comment.

    Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?

    my web page ... top ways to make money online

  8. I simply couldn't depart your web site before suggesting that I extremely loved the standard information a person supply for your guests? Is going to be again steadily in order to investigate cross-check new posts

    Feel free to visit my blog post

  9. If it is applied after blisters have formed, it shrinks the blisters overnight and relieves all the redness and irritation surrounding the sore.
    Lysine stops the virus from getting the protein
    (arginine) that it needs to build new virus particles.
    But you will never need to again with this great showcase
    of cold sore home remedies.

    Here is my web site :: cold sore remedy

  10. My coder is trying to convince me to move to .
    net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of
    the expenses. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type on a number of websites for about a year and am nervous about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress content into
    it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    My site ... website marketing company south wales