Students protest against fee hikes

The new Conservative/Liberal Democratic government in the UK has proposed very large hikes in university tuition, the New York Times reports.   University fees were first imposed by the previous Labour government.

Hiking fees makes sense as a way to control spending, but fighting against them makes sense for students who will now have to pay more than twice as much as they’d previously planned.

Paradoxically, the Labour government enjoyed more tolerance from its allies in increasing the costs of higher education.  Seeing a Tory government as completely unresponsive to their concerns, students activists see no hope for influence beyond making as much noise as possible, with the intent of fracturing the governing coalition.

Protests in the streets have so far led to property damage and great disruption.

Let’s see how American students respond to proposed tuition hikes here.  (The President of the University of California, my employer, has proposed 8 percent increases in tuition for the next school year.)  The LA Times reports:

Under the plan, undergraduate student fees for 2011-12 would rise by $822 to $11,124 annually — about $12,150 when campus-based fees are included. Some professional school fees would also rise, depending on campus and program. The fee hikes would generate about $180 million in annual revenue.

The UC Board of Regents will consider the plan when it meets Nov. 16 to 18 in San Francisco. The university raised fees 32% for the current academic year, sparking student protests.

Last year’s volatile student protests led to a California state budget that protected the university at the expense of many other programs.  But the state budget crisis, including funding higher education, is far from over.

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About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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