The European Students’ Union, an umbrella organisation of 45 national unions of students in higher education from 38 European countries, would like to express once again, in just 18 months’ time, its support to the National Assembly of Students’ Councils of the Republic of Bulgaria (NASC) in its fight for an independent and self-organised student organisation.
The European Students’ Union expresses its concern about the ongoing pressure that students endure from members of the Bulgarian Parliament, who for a second consecutive time are attempting to impose their influence over an independent, nationally recognized students’ body with representative functions in Bulgaria. Drafting a piece of legislation that would harm the independence of NASC, and would strip down its capacity to finance, and organise its higher education projects and campaigns, by reducing NASC’s membership-fee-based budget by over 70%, is something that the European Students’ Union is deeply worried about, especially at times of big and long-awaited reforms, concerning Bulgarian students.
In absolute controversy with ESU’s practice and the standing orders of NASC is the intention to change process of granting voting rights in the General Assembly. Student union will be able to obtain voting rights without paying the annual membership fee set by the law of Higher Education. We find hard to imagine that a European country would attempt to forbid its students from being elected by their independent students’ councils, to represent their independent universities on a national level. We consider it’s inappropriate and unacceptable putting mandatory to the members of General Assembly, as the superior body of NASC. We are considering that standing orders of NASC are reliable and provide dynamic and democratic way of electing members of GA. Such restrictions over the student representation that doesn’t give students an equal right to participation is something that the European Students’ Union has already defined as unacceptable.
Any such similar attempts to shape a student organisation are in violation with the fundamental right of students to be able to freely organise themselves in legally recognised entities. Any attempts to alter the free will of the members of an independent student organization, suspending the term of a legitimate elected governing body by imposing new legislation, we find a non-democratic practice,
which has no place, and analogy, in an European country.
Therefore, the European Students’ Union once again calls on the responsible authorities to immediately cease all forms of political pressures on NASC and Bulgarian students, to respect the country’s engagement in the light of the Bologna process and the EU 2020 agenda, regarding student participation, and to listen to the demands of its students.
Our praise and support goes to NASC for their undergoing pioneer initiative to implement a countrywide Students’ Self-Governance Quality Charter”, a professional standard, based on dialogue, collaboration, and European best-practices, as described in ESU’s “No Student Left Out” guidebook. We believe that such independently-run, grass-root initiatives are the only reasonable way in which
representative students’ bodies can, and should, regulate themselves without any political intervention, in compliance with the independent nature of the academic system, and in strive to achieve the highest benchmarks set internationally.