The government of the Republic of Croatia has adopted changes in the Law on Student Work, proposed by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education working group, on 31st October 2018 (1). This was the first time the law has changed in over 10 years.
In the article 12 of the document, paragraph 1 it is regulated that the recompense for the Mediators (Student Centers) is 12 % net wage per sum of student contract, to be used for expense in mediation and the improvement of the student standard. It is stated that the student standard involves improvement of student nutrition and accommodation, cultural and sports activities for students.
Article 14. paragraph (4) states that the committee is to be formed by a public call, by which 3 members will be appointed by the Student Council of each HEI that owns the Mediator, and 2 members will be appointed by the Mediator.
This is the first time that the students in Croatia had the chance to overview the usage of the income from 12 % obtained from the student work. The Law on Student Work before the new adoption in 2018, stated that 12% of the income obtained from the student work needs to be used for the same purposes as in the new law, but the Mediator alone could decide upon what falls under which purpose, and how the income will be distributed, especially regarding student standard that covers a broad scope of possibilities. From the yearly income, wages for the workers in the sectors of student nutrition and student accommodation were paid out, amongst others, and university student councils were never informed on the way in which these funds will be spent and had no control over it. It remains the same after 6 months of passing the law.
ESU firmly believes that this income is to be distributed to benefit the students whose work is the source of this income and disagrees with the fact that students are not involved in managing this income expenditure for the benefit of students.
The Croatian Student Council (CSC) identifies that the main problem is the definition of student standard, which is not yet determined and allows the interpretation of it for the Mediators to control how do they want to spend the money. We consider it necessary to define the students’ standard categories and everything that can be funded by the income coming from students. CSC wants to create a document in which these categories will be listed and this will be presented to the Minister of Science and Education since the CSC as the national student representative body should be proposing the definition of the student standard. ESU supports this goal and believes that only by creating a legal document presented to the public (meaning students) on the matter of defining the student standard, can the misinterpretation of law and misuse of funds without consulting with student representatives be stopped.
ESU fully supports CSC in creating a legally binding policy for Mediators, with the help from the Ministry of Science and Education, to prevent any financial misuse of the student funds; we condemn the subjectivity of the current system, in which anything the mediator desires can be presented as the student standard improvement. ESU believes that this allows the Mediators to charge arbitrary costs to student accommodation and nutrition, a service they were created to provide with. Including student representatives in decision-making processes on the distribution of funds coming from student work and intended for students is of the utmost importance to ESU.
Proposed by: CSC
Seconded by: ANOSR, SSU, SURS, SPUM, NASC, SKONUS, CREUP, ŠRVŠ, SKRVŠ, ASM, KSU, NSUM, SURS
(1) Law (in Croatian): https://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2018_10_96_1851.htm