Get Up, Stand Up: Are UK Students Protesting the ‘Americanization’ of Higher Ed?

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Over the past few weeks, students in London and other parts of the UK have taken to the streets to protest current plans for education cuts and an increase in tuition fees.  If this plan moves forward, students from the UK and EU may be forced to pay up to 9K a year for tuition in a society where only a few years ago, university for UK students was free.  As an American who comes from a place where a college education can put you in debt for half of your career, I cannot relate 100 percent, but I respect their struggle.  More than anything, I admire the fact that they have wasted no time to make their voices heard–both on the street, online, via the arts and in any way possible.  It seems like every week, a group is going on strike or protesting against something here. Whether it’s effective or not is to be seen, but there is certainly something to be said about having the balls and the passion to step away from the computer and take it to the streets–especially amongst the younger generation.

I have had several conversations with people from other countries where a college education is available for free or at a very low cost, and many are in fear of the same thing happening in their countries. Is an “Americanization” of  higher education starting to spread across the world?  In the US, a college education is not necessarily considered a right– openly provided by the government to ensure that its citizens have the opportunity to become the best that they can be, but a luxury for those who can afford it or wish to take out a serious student loan.  It speaks to our “survival of the fittest” mentality, while also making colleges and universities institutions that are in the business of education.  Now that other societies are seeing how much money can be made from this, perhaps they are changing gears to get a piece of the education pie.  I sympathize … while I cringe at the thought of paying my horrendous student loan.  Yet, even with the currency conversion, a Masters degree in the UK still costs substantially less than it would in the US.  Oh boy.

Check out this video that was produced by Captain SKA, featuring footage from British Prime Minister David Cameron.  This is just one of many ways that students are making their voices heard.