YEREVAN – Plans to raise tuition fees in Armenia up to thirty per cent might have devastating consequences for the society as it would limit people’s chances of seeking higher education severely.
Tuition fees were already increased by fifteen per cent on average in May at many public and private universities, which is out of proportion with the country’s socio-economic development as students have to pay 1048 USD in tuition fees on average a year when nominal salaries are only about 260 USD a month. Armenian graduates have already been hit hard by the economic crisis and high unemployment, giving students a grim image of their future.
A letter of support sent to main stakeholders
European students are very concerned about the recent developments in Armenia and have supported the fight of the Armenian National Students’ Association (ANSA) against this policy. On Friday 21 June 2013, the European Students’ Union (ESU) sent a letter of support for ANSA to the all main stakeholders in the higher education field in Armenia.
ESU believes that education is the prerequisite for building a knowledge-based society, where the role of higher education is vital in developing an active civil society, a stronger economy and in providing equal opportunities for all. A high level of education results in lower unemployment rates, better quality of health, lower crime rates, more societal involvement and higher tax returns.
“Raising tuition fees hinders individuals from accessing higher education, thus making education a privilege of the elite and for those that can afford to pay the fees. In the economic situation of Armenia, where the amount of fees exceeds the average salary by far, the effects of raising the fees are hazardous both for the individual and society at large,” said the letter signed by ESU’s Vice-Chairperson Rok Primozic.
European students stand in solidarity
Over ten national unions of students in Europe have also sent their letters of support to ANSA to show their solidarity against swinging tuition fees in Armenia. In the past few weeks, ANSA has also actively organised public hearings and meetings with more than ten local student unions where over one thousand students attended.
ANSA has made an official statement on this issue and distributed it to the main stakeholders in Armenia, at the Council of Europe and OSCE offices in Yerevan, the EU-Armenia office and the Ombudsman in Armenia. That statement was also sent to the rectors of Armenian universities who took the decision to raise tuition fees as well as rectors of other higher education institutions in the country.
ESU shows full support to ANSA’s efforts and has appealed to the authorities responsible for changing the fees to reconsider that policy due to the impact that it will cause.
“Young people are the future of a society, and everyone deserves the right to receive an education, regardless of their socio-economic background and their ability to pay,” ESU’s letter said.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 38 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.