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Protests in London: Students march united

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"Is the debate around education dividing or uniting us?"

Reading the newspapers today I cannot keep up with the number of comments and reactions that the protests held in London on 9 November have provoked from all sides. Some of the messages from thousands of people flooding the streets of London work as a reality check for anyone wondering about the current economic crisis.

The protest was considered as peaceful, with some 4,000 police officers lining the route of the march. The number of protestors that turned up was estimated at 10,000 –amount that varies depending on different reports. Only 24 arrests were made, mainly for minor offences.  

A large number of those protesting were UK students, unhappy about the government's plan to allow universities to increase tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year for students starting in September 2012. It is amazing to see that many young faces turned up to defend what they consider are actions against their future.

I believe education is a revolutionary tool of change. It opens up infinite opportunities for individuals to enhance their lives as well as bringing benefits to society’s dynamic as a whole. This is exactly what British students are fighting for.

What I found amazing is that along with those domestic students, many international students walked shoulder to shoulder with them to make the same claim: “Education should be for all.” This is taking into account that international students, so far, have paid almost 3 times more than domestic students and that many of them have incurred into debt in their home countries in order to achieve their objective of achieve high quality education.

Even if affected in a different manner, international students recognise the importance of defending education as a right and not a privilege obtained with money. Annette Webb, an international development student at Portsmouth University, shared with the BBC her worries about the fees increment: "It will mean that education is only for the rich and I believe it should be for everyone."

The recent events in London are just a small example of a bigger discussion: values such as education and fraternity among students unite instead of dividing. This is what education is for: it is aim to bridge the gap between people from all places and to find common areas for discussion.

Studying abroad open channels for people to get together and communicate. It is literally a diplomatic passport that can be used anywhere! The current events just shows how there are no cultural barriers for cultural exchange and that international students are themselves those agents that bring global issues to the same arena, one that cannot be ignored by other interests.

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