Dec 102010
 
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I generally don’t get political but the last couple of days have really annoyed me. Pictures like this make my blood boil:

Luke Macgregor/REUTERS (via Guardian)

These kids are only out for one thing – to cause havoc. Why else would they need to cover their faces and hide their identity?

I’m all for students having a moan about tuition fees although I completely disagree with their thinking that uni should be free. They have a right to protest, but not to cause criminal damage and to assault people. They have a right to an education too. The thing is, they’ve HAD that education. You see, education is only compulsory up to the age of 16 and it is paid for by the government. Not everyone in the world has that privilege even though education it is one of our human rights. On the subject of human rights, today is actually Human Rights Day; Another human right is the protection of your own property – something the students seem to forget about when they start breaking stuff!

Further to the free education that the government pays for from the age of 3 to 16, they also give you an extra couple of years in 6th form or college. Again, this is generally free and certainly beyond the call of duty. Going to University is not a right, it is a privilege and one that I was lucky enough to have had, although it was expensive!

When I started uni in 1998 they had pretty much scrapped the grant system; I got about £500 in my first term and that was it. The rest of it was paid for with a £9000 student loan (that I’m still paying back), some money from my parents towards accommodation and a part time job helping run a punk-rock mail order catalogue and working at record fairs around the north east. The working part was the best part – it felt good to be able to pay for some of my education myself. It’s surprising how much difference £50 a week can make.

What annoys me most about the current violent protests is not just the fact the students are clearly looking for trouble, but that they think they have a right to a university education. Sorry, but if you want something extra then you have to pay for it!

When I planned on going to uni I had a career in mind – I would study biochemistry with biomedicine and then go work in research labs either for a pharma company or at a university research lab. I pretty much fulfilled this although my current line of work is as detached from biochemistry as Jordan is from Peter.

I think one of the bigger issues about the whole fees debate is the reason WHY these students want to go to uni. Is it to further their education in order to get better jobs? If so then really, these days, a degree isn’t going to make much difference except in certain fields like medicine or engineering etc. I frequently hear of people who went to work straight after 6th form that have better jobs/careers than those who went to uni. When I went to uni it simply wasn’t possible to get the jobs I was looking for without a degree – hence I got a degree. Some of the courses on offer these days are ridiculous and have no practical value. Perhaps if the students were to do proper courses then 1) there’d be less people in uni ‘just for fun’ thus allowing more funding per student and 2) they might actually be able to get a relevant job at the end of the course! Are they going to uni to learn or to avoid having to get a job in the real world for a few more years? Whatever their motives, it’s clear that they’re not bothered about their education – how else would they find time to travel to London to protest? My degree involved, from memory, 12-15 hours of lectures and 6-8 hours of practical sessions every week; At the end of my first year, when everyone else had 6 weeks of dossing about before Summer, we started our 2nd year modules so that we could fit everything in; I also had to do 2 dissertations.

So, there you go. Stop your whining and, if you want to study, then go and do it instead of messing about starting fights demanding you get everything for free.