There is a lot of snow in St Andrews today as there has been for more than a week. There is also an unusual level of commotion. The University of St Andrews is a very conservative institution. It was (arguably) established by a papal bull of the last 'Babylonian' Pope, Benedict XIII, in 1413. There is no train line to St Andrews: the town with its ruined cathedral sits on the tip of a peninsula of the Eastern Scottish coast; perched on a cliff looking out over the North Sea. The heir to the throne and his fiance studied here and so on and so forth.

But, at the moment, St Andrews' 'Parliament Hall' (so called because the Scottish Parliament met here during the war-and-plague of the mid-1600s) is under occupation. Students, led by one of our anthropology undergraduates have taken over the former home of government and today they held a meeting to say why. Scotland has, up to now, taken a distinct view of higher education to England (Scotland has a partially devolved government). But the social redistributive emphasis characterising Scottish politics is under threat; both because the budget for Scotland is being reduced but also because  the economic situation can easily become an opportunity to transform education even further into an expensive commodity open only to very few wealthy people. At the same time, the students are also protesting about cuts to social services generally and a London-centred politics that sees redistribution to the poor and disadvantaged as a drain on the capital of wealthy Southerners.

Here is their blog:

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Comment by John McCreery on December 8, 2010 at 4:52pm
For what it's worth, last week in NaplesI heard a linguist, who works behind a bar and plays in a street band for fun, saying pretty much the same things about Italy. And the academic Net is rife with similar complaints in the USA.


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