During the last decade, students’ social profile has changed a lot. Democratisation of higher education (HE) allowed economically disadvantaged people to access higher education institutions (HEI). However, social protection systems (grants, health insurance etc…) did not follow proportionally. Students’ precarity has been growing in parallel to the economic and social crisis which has been ongoing in Europe almost a decade now. To secure acceptable living conditions, students often work alongside their studies: 45% of the students have part-time jobs and 13% of them have full-time jobs. Several studies show that working while studying reduces the chances to succeed, and consequently create a social selection between students.
Still, a significant part of students need part-time jobs to be able to afford their studies’, and labour market regulations do affects part-time students. It is thus crucial that labour market laws get adopted in consideration of the students’ situation specificities and realities.
However, following the European Commission’s recommendation, public authorities of different countries in Europe are currently adopting measures that undermine these principles by obeying to the following logic: flexibilisation of the working time, casualisation of the worker’s negotiation situation, and flexibilisation of short-term and casual contracts. These measures tend to have a strong impact on the ability of students to schedule their study life, and definitely affect the time-budget of studying.
Such measures have been recently initiated in both France and Belgium, triggering massive protests and strikes initiated by student unions, trade unions, and a wide range of actors of the civil society, but which face upsetting lack of consideration from governments. In France, after 2 months of mobilisation, the labour law project is now debated in the parliament and needs support. Even if the protest reached 500 000 people and numerous strikes went on, the contestation needs every support it can get. In Belgium, current and future protests and strikes need all the support that can be provided to address a strong message of contestation to the federal government and parliament.
Therefore, the European Students’ Union addresses its strong support to both student contestation movements in France and in Belgium. Furthermore, ESU strongly suggests that that European and national public authorities must not foster and/or adopt labour market measures that would casualize the situation of students who rely on part-time jobs and part-
time students even more. On the contrary public authorities should adopt measures that put students under social protection which permits them to study without any financial pressure that would force them into side jobs.