BRUSSELS – On Saturday students gathered in Brussels, Belgium, to oppose budget cuts for education policies. They furthermore reminded decision makers of their demands and promoted their fight to ensure access to free and quality education.
“We can see the shift to privatised education everywhere and the lack of education has in fact played its part in causing the crisis. Students gathered all over Europe on Saturday as well as in the other continents to stand up for their rights, to state that we do not tolerate anymore the decisions that are being taken on our behalf, and demand what we should rightfully have; publicly financed, accessible and quality education for all,” says Taina Moisander, the vice-chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU), who was a key-note speaker at the event.
A number of students participated in the demonstration on Saturday on the occasion of the International Students’ Day that is held annually. People were also invited to submit written statements to a board during the rally where they reinstated their demand for free and quality education. The student unions FEF (Fédération des Etudiants Francophones), VVS (Vlaamse Vereniging van Studenten), ESU (European Students Union), OBESSU (Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions) and several other organisations (Conseil de la Jeunesse, Comité des Elèves francophones, Jeunes FDF, COMAC, ECOLO J, MJS ) organised the demonstration taking place in the Schuman roundabout in Brussels.
“Education is not only a solution to the crisis, it is the only solution. We as student organisations, individuals and people that believe in the value of education need to be the ones to make our demands known,” Moisander explains.
The future of the policy for higher education is at a critical period of time in Europe. It has become clear that the payments for the Erasmus programme are at risk, as the Member States to the European Union have not yet managed to agree on the supplementary budget for 2012. The payments and therefore availability of grants for next year will depend on whether an agreement is reached on the 2013 budget by the end of this year. The discussions on the European Union’s proposal for a multi-annual financial framework from 2014 to 2020 also continue where the European Commission has proposed an introduction of a new EU Loan Facility for students. ESU has criticised many aspects of the development of higher education policy in Europe.
“We can see the implications of the crisis everywhere, as tuition fees are on the rise, student support is slashed and the budget cuts for higher education all over Europe are obvious, resulting in a lack of opportunities for many individuals to seek higher education,” Moisander recaps.
Background on the International Students’ Day
The International Students’ Day, is celebrated in remembrance of the demonstrations by Czech students against the German occupation, which resulted in the killing of Jan Opletal, an aspiring medical student, in 1941. The events of what followed after, with students being jailed, sent to concentration camps and the execution of students and teachers who took part in a demonstration against the shooting, were first commemorated on 17 November 1941 by students in the UK in what became known in Europe as the Students’ Day.
A number of students wrote that they considered important to have the right to free education.
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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.