Why The Rise In Student Protests Worldwide?

This is a touchy subject, and is open to a number of contradicting viewpoints and ideas, but the fact remains that there is an increasing amount of student protest around the world, most notably in South Africa. The reasons for student protest around the globe vary, however, modern protest movements in South Africa and the United States are centred around exclusion or segregation of particular racial groups, or rising costs in studying at educational institutions.

Student Protest A Political Norm 

Tertiary education, and the social structures associated with universities across the globe, have always been socio-economic and socio-political ‘flashpoints’. Enlightened youths have always been the first to identify and highlight political and social bigotry. The student protests in South Africa and United States have been no different in their orientation, but the degree at which the protests were levelled at political organisations has been bolstered, so to speak. There have been a number of studies as to why this has occurred, and while it is difficult to summarize within a single blog, a few points can be made.

A Shift Of Power 

A 2014 study by Foresight, a research cell at the University of Houston, identified a shift of power as being the catalyst that has driven the student protests. We all know that there have been grave restrictions regarding students’ human rights for years, particularly against students of colour, but globally universities have controlled a hegemony over tertiary education. This has all changed, and apparently, we have modern telecommunications to thank. Nowadays, students of all backgrounds can achieve their degrees and post-graduate degrees online, which posed the question “what is the need for universities?”

This has created a power shift that predominantly placed the bargaining chip in the hands of students rather than governments, which essentially gives them more of an opportunity to address important concerns. This has led to, not only an increase of international student protest but an increase in EFFECTIVE protest action.

The Bigger Picture 

The Houston study also reveals something incredibly important; that universities and students are in the same boat. The modern international society is, in fact, putting pressure on tertiary education organisations. Economic woes translate as dwindling university positions for lecturers, professors and tutors. The staff are often overqualified to be placed in more ‘conventional’ career spaces, and this highlights the need for professionals who have a skill set that will assist students who want to achieve certification that can be used directly in the job market.

The students’ concerns regarding the lack of available jobs after graduation, the rising cost of studies, the racial exclusion and/or segregation within educational institutions, and the crippling financial burden on universities and their staff all point to a political issue that the Houston study determines needs remedying. The student protests have reached a new tipping point in the 21st century not because universities are the root of the problem, but rather that politics is the root of the problem. The political machination needs to change, to foster a society of complete equality, separating divisiveness of race, religion, and gender from politics and tertiary education.

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