The 17th of November International Day of Students was celebrated, recognised and commemorated across the globe in many ways, reflecting the diversity of students, their ambitions and history.
The day has particular significance for some European countries: On November 17th 1939 students protested the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, in 1973 students rose up against the military junta in Greece and in 1989 students in Bratislava and Prague started the Velvet Revolution. As we reflect on the many ways the day was marked we look at some of the activities organised by member unions of ESU.
Czech Republic SKRVS
For students in the Czech republic November 17th holds a very special significance and this year SK RVŠ hosted several events to commemorate the events of 17th November in 1939 and 1989.
On 16th Nov students’ leaders held a discussion about the student movement in 1989 in a time which highly influenced the beginning of the Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia.
On 17th Nov, a memorial ceremony and student parade dedicated to students' struggling in 1939 took place in the streets of Prague.
In Spain a campaign including three blocks of actions was coordinated by the national union of students with each block targeting at different set of important education stakeholders.
During the morning of the 17th of November local unions began with a grassroots awareness raising campaign by writing "#17NOVV International Students' Day" on the boards of all classrooms.
A photo campaign was coordinated with the aim of highlighting Lifelong learning and student centred learning. Students and staff were invited to take a photo holding a sign saying "I am a student #17NOVV" and shared it on social media. This particular phrase was chosen to demonstrate the importance of highlighting Lifelong learning and student centred learning and how they are not limited to students. Additionally people excluded from the education system, who cannot study for many possible reasons, were also invited to join the campaign using the slogan "I want to be a student #17NOVV".
In collaboration with the secondary school national union a press conference was held to engage the press and make wider society more aware of the campaign actions and to consider the call including some demands for Spanish students.
SKONUS organized an internet forum on the 17th of November with many Serbian students taking up the opportunity to publicly share problems they are facing in their faculties. Student representatives answered their questions and provided pathways to solve issues and problems. The primary aim of the forum was to highlight students' problems which little is known about.
National and local media were invited to cover the online event and highlight the problems that students are facing as well as to promote the International Day of Students among the public. SKONUS hope this event will grow into a real project in the future with the aim to overcome barriers that have existed for years between the students and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, as well as among students and to improve study conditions in Serbia.
Alongside the event a publication of essays by international students who study in Serbia entitled "My life in Serbia" was issued. This collection aims to share the rich experience many international students enjoy in Serbian universities and invites many international students to study there.
FAIRe marked the day by focusing on the value of education for individuals and society by sharing this selfie and their important message:
In Austria the ÖH took up the global call for education free of barriers and discrimination. They invited students to get informed while drinking some tea or coffee.
In Malta the National Union of Students issued this call to reduce fees, increase rights and improve accessibility:
“Today we celebrate International Students' Day.
Today we celebrate our development at this University.
Today, the spotlight is on us.
And we didn't pay to be here;
but our friends abroad have.
Education is a right and not a privilege.
Education is a path to Emancipation.
Education should not be feared.
Join us in this International plea to reduce educational fees, increase student rights and open doors of Universities like ours.
Students rights, are human rights.”
The Danish National Union of Students used the day to focus on the national and international fight against tuition fees whilst pursuing equality.
“Today is the International Student Day, where students across the world will focus on our rights. We stand together across borders to support each other's rights to free education, free from fear, free from discrimination and free of barriers. #FreeEducation #studentday”
A series of events were organised by student parliaments across Norway. The theme was international students and the diversity they bring with them to Norwegian campuses. The National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) and the local student unions were worried about the impact of a government proposal to introduce tuition fees for students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area. However, the measure has been scrapped following the students’ campaign. On the picture below, the student union at Sør-Trøndelag University College have recruited their rector Helge Klungland (2nd from left) to the campaign.