Tuition Fees – the public just aren’t that interested

Given that opinion polls suggest the public are against the university fees increases I got to wondering how much people actually really care about the issue! (Apologies btw – I posted this twice – the last version formatted oddly)

Obviously this isn’t an easy thing to research – but I thought a quick trawl through the Guardian online public commentary might provide some insite.  

This is obvioulsy non -representative – you could in fact call it a purposive sample – but this should tell us something  – my reasoning – Guardian readers are likely to make up the main base of wider public support against the raising of tuition fees –  the readership is older, left wing and middle class – so if these readers don’t seem interested in the protests, one can reasonably assume that there is no popular groundswell of meaninful, passionate opinion against the rising of tuition fees, even if the opinion polls tell us that 75% of the population are oppossed.

There are 36 million unique hits on the Guardian website every month – but if you look at the commentary on items sucha as this about the tuition fees and students protests – you find a few hundred comments, maybe a thousand,  which to my mind doesn’t represent an engaged civil society debating the issue online, and it certainly doesn’t suggest popular heartfelt support for the student protestors.  

So while a lot people say ‘I don’t agree with the increasing of tuition fees’ when aksed in a poll,when push comes to shove, the wider population just couldn’t care less. Students can protest all they like, the fees increase is here to stay

Having said all of that – a quick trawl through the ‘readers comments’ on  the Guardian online gives you a lot more to think about than a TV news item with ‘experts’. Below are some of my faves –

Comment 1 – [the recent protests] should remind us all that we have been living in relatively calm times for a while. Britain remembers times that were not very calm at all. It is just the beginning for the Government. If they think it will just go away because Dave shouts a few Headmasterish slogans, then they have another think coming. Read your history Dave. This is what happens when people feel like they have been treated unjustly. It has happened many times in our history, it will happen again.

Comment 2 – I am sure a lot of this is about more than fees for those who were running around Oxford street etc smashing things up – it is about seeing banks getting more and more money whilst whole community’s are targeted for the second time by neo-liberalism. First they came and took working class jobs and decimated industry and now they are coming for the benefits that have kept those people able to eat at least – and then they wonder where the anger comes from….And yesterday in the US the banks payed out bonuses early so their staff could buy Christmas presents whilst thousands protested outside them asking for jobs. People can see that what is happening is the biggest gulf opening up between ‘them’ and ‘us’ since feudal times.

Comment 3- I quote directly from Rachel Burden on 5live yesterday lunchtime “there look to be roughly 10,000 students protesting so far. All very calm at the moment so no real story yet, we’ll cross live if there are any developments” Kind of puts all the “if only they were peacful their message would get across” into perspective doesn’t it?

Comment 4 – I dislike the monarchy, to be fair I found it quite amusing

Comment 5  – I can’t believe senior police called their officers ‘brave’, what exactly is brave about dressing in full armor and attacking unarmed protesters? They really have done themselves no favors, and they wonder why the majority of people these days don’t like them. Fools.

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