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Today was...interesting. The building I work in was right near the epicentre of the tuition fees march earlier. The fire alarms got set off (repeatedly) by the big bonfire, stuff got spraypainted on the windows, some windows got broken, etc. Particularly odd considering the timing: most of the important people who would usually be in that building were away with David Cameron's delegation in China. Who were they protesting to in that building?

All of which brings me to a long-and-possibly-tedious-to-read realisation.

I fully agreed with the anger of students who see their Uni fees being hiked up (especially with David Cameron assuring foreign students in China that it's only the domestic students who'll see their fees hiked). I'm not that far away from my Uni days myself, and I remember seeing a big chunk of money disappearing from my accounts. I was so not happy with that at the time, and the fees are the time were a lot lower than they will be in the future. So graduates are being asked to go into ever higher levels of debt (and the interest rates of student loans are going up too) to get a better job in the future at a time when the job market looks like it's saturated. Yes I know there are always jobs out there, but how depressing must it be to leave Uni with those £40K-50K debts, just to be told you are 'overqualified' for a job?

And yes, I understand the thought that as graduates earn an average of £100K more over their lifetime, they should be contributing more to their education. There is a limit to the amount of money that the Government can afford to give out in subsidies, and the extra has to come from somewhere. I know all this.

But still...don't those higher earners already pay more tax? If we swamp them in debt they may never get out of until they're 50, that's a lot of potential first-home-buyers who will be priced out of the market. Don't those first buyers keep the market flowing? Am I just wrong in thinking that it's a bit short sighted?

I realise that as a recent-graduate earning an ok-but-not-great salary at a charity which is partially government funded, who is still paying off my student loan, I have a conflict of interests. The less money going to subsidize University fees, the more that may go into the contracts my company wins.

But either way, one thing I found irritating: why the hell did they need to cause so much destruction? There was a gleeful cheer every time a window got broken or whatever. Destruction is not constructive! And yet, there are so many issues in history that only got dealt with once people started violently protesting.

So, I feel sympathy for the plight of students...but so, so disappointed that they showed themselves to be merely another mob.


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February 2016

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