domingo, fevereiro 28, 2010

Uniriot towards Wien: Europe calling!

On March 11th and 12th, an event that is only apparently insignificant and self-referential will take place in Budapest and Wien: the celebration of the anniversary of the Bologna Process, the reform of the university system drawn up ten years ago and progressively applied in the European countries, but not only there. Between Budapest and Wien, the 46 European Ministers of Education will gather to toast to the failure and the decadence of the european education system. We, that in the last years have been taking active part in the italian struggles against the divestment of the university, we that have crossed Europe to join other experiences that, as we did, opposed the destruction of university and the precarization of our lives, won't let them deceive us neither by this farce, nor by the empty and tired liturgy repeated by those gentlemen: "student mobility", "euro-compatibility", "competitiveness". Words that actually imply something quite different: deskilling of knowledge, fragmentation of the course of studies, economic exploitation of the students, cutbacks in public funding, gradual divestiture of the rights and welfare structures.

During the last years, the technocratic deceit that pervaded the reform process had been precociously unveiled by to the movements that protested against the Bologna Process: these movements have foreshadowed a new constituent european space without any nostalgia for the past, but claiming the excess and immeasurableness of knowledge. These movements have unveiled the real nature of neoliberism, opposing the privatization of knowledge and the new enclosures force established through patents and copyrights. At the same time, these movements, fed up of the control of the state bureaucracy upon university and knowledge, claimed a public but not state university.

The student, as the same draft bills proposed during the last years in the different countries are never tired of repeating, is a subject, in every respect, intern to the work market based on knowledge. Students are at the centre of gentrification and productive processes in every european metropolis. Students are a social figure that produce wealth. We are not nostalgic. On the contrary, we want to stress this centrality, reversing it against those who used it as a rhetoric to promote new forms of exploitation.

We want basic income, guarantees, decisional power, recognition of the social activity carried out inside and outside the university to correspond to the centrality of the student in the production. On the contrary, the purpose of Bologna Process, behind the rhetoric of competitiveness and efficientism, is to transform universities into places of intensive exploitation of the new work force. The recognition of the centrality of students in the production process coincides with a more and more violent precarization.

Continue to read the text...Italy, from this point of view, has been a veritable laboratory for testing both the Bologna Process, and the movements that opposed it. In a country where the continuous cuts in funding the university, still considered as a current expenditure rather than a sector in which to invest, the fragmentation of training, the deskilling of knowledge, the expulsion of researchers from universities - all in a unique blend of company-oriented rhetoric and persistence of the corporative power of the academy – are the prevailing features, it is easy to understand how the underlying trend in Europe is to push down and downgrade the cognitive workforce. The very objectives that the Bologna Process aimed at, the ones the same Italian authors feel they have missed, resulted in a complete failure, the figures speak for themselves: 3 +2 did not include more students into the labor market nor there is a correspondence of the salary to their skills in a future work. Also as far as the student mobility is concerned, it is known that access blocks between universities, faculties, between 3 and 2, between the master degree and doctorate far outweigh the possibility of mobility.

The Wave, last year, was a response to all this, not only to economic cutbacks, but to the very structure of the university. The struggles that occurred have immediately throw into crisis the current state faced by the universities, requiring not only more quality in training, but also and especially autonomy in the direct management of the course of studies, in the sharing of knowledge and research. The same opposition to corporatism that characterizes the universities in Italy, has found a constructive expression in the practices of independence and self-management of faculties.

The network Uniriot, since 2005, has always been having the goal of building links and networking among other struggles that emerge in schools and universities, with the awareness that it is always possible to detect a trend in the closure of the control devices, as well as opportunities for strategies and practices of moments of resistance. The experience of the Wave has not been isolated: it had found some anticipations in the movement against the CPE in France in 2006, as well as into the experiences of Denmark, Greece, Holland, Germany, Croatia, Serbia and Austria. A true cycle of university struggles is is spreading all over Europe even without a general continuity. Everywhere we have put evidence on some decisive issues: the quality of living conditions of young people, the need to experience independence in the training, the opposition to the precariousness and privatization of knowledge, the intolerance towards the present state of things.

We, as Uniriot network, believe that it is fundamental to cross the Vienna days to take part both in the March 11th demonstration to challenge the official meeting of ministers, and in the workshops of March 12th-14th. An opportunity to rise to the fore what in recent years remained in the background, to build a common vocabulary among all those experiences that in recent years have opposed the process of destruction of the university. For this reason we will organize, in the main Italian universities, caravans reaching Vienna in the days of the summit.

sábado, fevereiro 27, 2010

Unrest as the Bologna Process reaches its 10th anniversary

"Students in several countries in Europe have protested against the national implementation of the Bologna Process. But the same students and student representatives across the continent are also trying to make the process work, by providing their view on how education can better meet the students’ needs. The education ministers of Europe should acknowledge the protests and follow up by giving students better possibilities for deciding on the present and future of their own education", says Ligia Deca, ESU chairperson.

The Bologna Process has entered its special anniversary year. 2010 was set to be the year by which a European Higher Education Area must be created. Though the process is not at all close to its end, the ministers responsible for higher education are meeting in Budapest and Vienna in March this year to celebrate this occasion and to reaffirm their commitment to the goals of the Bologna Process.

On the other hand, the European Union in the year 2000 launched its Lisbon agenda with which a strategic goal to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion was set for the decade. Higher education has been fundamental in further developments in the Lisbon Agenda.

ESU is organising a European Student Summit preceding the Bologna Anniversary Ministerial Conference. In doing this, ESU seeks to further promote students’ view on the reform agenda, but to also bring the students’ contribution to the ministers. ESU will present its limelight publication ”Bologna at the Finish Line” which takes a look back at what has been done in the past 10 years, but which also has a forward looking emphasis by making suggestions to the further action on the priorities that were set last year in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve.

Furthermore, the student summit will be the place where ESU’s documentary ”Faces of Bologna”, an attempt at giving the implementation of Bologna a human face, is screened. Finally, ESU seeks to make a declaration to the ministers on the students’ concerns and proposals for Higher Education in Europe during the next decade.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 26, 2010

Protesters clash with Police at UC Berkeley

What began as an occupation of Durant Hall to raise support for next Thursday's statewide protest evolved into a riot involving 200 people, burning trash cans and leaving at least one broken window near the south side of UC Berkeley early Friday morning.

Several protesters occupied Durant Hall in support of the statewide day of action on March 4, according to a statement given by Asaf Shalev, a spokesperson for the occupiers. Shalev is a former employee of The Daily Californian.

About 15 people occupied the hall starting around 11:15 p.m, according to Callie Maidhof, a student organizer and UC Berkeley graduate student. People appeared to be moving in and out of the building; some were on the roof.

Around 1:30 a.m., people appeared to be leaving the hall and marching to Upper Sproul Plaza. Protesters marched onto the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way, throwing over trash cans. One individual broke the window to Subway.

Police in riot gear and at least six police vehicles responded to the scene.

Police appear to have formed a line across Telegraph Ave. at Durant Ave. Protesters are dancing in the middle of Telegraph Ave. near Durant Ave., and appear to be moving closer to the police line at around 1:50 a.m.

Continue to read the text...A trash can appears to be on fire in front of Smart Alec's Intelligent Food restaurant.

At 1:55 a.m., a dumpster appeared to be on fire in the middle of Telegraph Ave. An individual pushed the dumpster on its side as people appear to be dancing around and on top of it.

At about 2 a.m., Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene. Another individual, who said he was undercover security at Blake's, appeared to be attempting to put out the fire.

BFD extinguished the fire.

At about 2:05 a.m., a fight appeared to have broken out in the middle of Telegraph Ave. and Durant Ave. Berkeley police responded to the scene, pushing people away south on Telegraph Ave.

Police appeared to be using batons to disperse people. Protesters appeared to be throwing what appeared to be trash and buckets at police officers.

Police appeared to be using batons to push protesters southbound on Telegraph Ave. away from campus.

At 2:10 a.m., protesters appeared to have formed a line across Telegraph Ave. in the Durant Ave. intersection chanting "whose street, our street." Police appeared to have formed a line opposite the protesters near Bank of America.

At around 2:15 a.m., both the UCPD and BPD line and protesters appeared to be pushing each other near the intersection of Durant Ave. and Telegraph Ave. Protesters appeared to be throwing glass objects at the police.

At about 2:25 a.m., protesters appeared to be throwing glass jugs of wine at the police. At least one individual was reportedly arrested, but police could not be reached to confirm.

At about 2:45 a.m., the crowd of protesters appeared to be moving up Durant Ave. towards Piedmont Ave. turning over trash cans, throwing news stands into the middle of the road, banging against windows, dragging police barricades, riding on top of cars and dancing.

At about 2:50 a.m., protesters lit approximately the sixth trash can on fire.

At about 2:55 a.m., protesters had halted at the intersection of College Ave. and Durant Ave. Some individuals pushed dumpsters onto the street and pushed them down Durant Ave. towards Telegraph Ave.

At about 3:05 a.m., about five police cars blocked off the intersection at College Ave. and Durant Ave. Several protesters appeared to be marching down College Ave.

About four police cars appeared to be driving eastbound on Channing Way. BART Police also appeared to have responded to the scene.

After protesters propelled dumpsters at the police, police appeared to have cleared the scene.

Maidhof said the occupation was not planned. "But if you get all the people here, what they decide to do is what matters; it is not whoever may or may not have planned it, that is irrelevant at a certain point," she said. Maidhof said occupiers are attempting to rebuild the energy from last semester.

About 100 people had gathered in total, dancing and talking, outside the hall. Maidhof said the occupiers were originally at a dance party on Upper Sproul Plaza, which began at 10 p.m.

segunda-feira, fevereiro 22, 2010

Bolsas de estudo atrasadas criam dificuldades

Estudantes universitários e do politécnico estiveram vários meses sem [receber as suas] bolsas de acção social. Alguns só agora começaram a receber.
Atrasos na atribuição das bolsas de acção social estão a provocar dificuldades aos estudantes do ensino superior. Apesar de a situação variar de instituição para instituição, muitos alunos do universitário e politécnico estiveram vários meses sem qualquer apoio financeiro e só este mês estão a começar a receber as primeiras prestações de 2009/2010. Para enfrentar as dificuldades, uns reduzem as despesas de alimentação ao mínimo, outros abdicam de livros, outros recorrem a trabalho extra.

Sónia Neves e Marlene Santos, estudantes do Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, estiveram sem bolsa durante quatro meses. Sónia, de 20 anos, a frequentar o 3º ano do curso de Animação Sócio-Educativa, garante que a bolsa "nunca foi regular", mas este foi o ano em que ficou mais tempo sem receber: só agora, em Fevereiro, chegou o dinheiro de Outubro, Novembro, Dezembro e Janeiro. A situação destas jovens não é única. Na Universidade de Coimbra havia, no início do mês, cerca de 1.200 alunos com bolsas em atraso. Na Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, segundo um responsável da Associação Académica, houve também estudantes com o pagamento atrasado, no início do ano lectivo. Mas há instituições como as Universidades de Lisboa e Porto que garantem ter recebido as verbas necessárias para pagar as bolsas a horas.

Continua a ler esta notícia...Filha de pai metalúrgico e mãe que serve às mesas, Sónia recebe 90 euros por mês de bolsa e esforça-se por pedir o mínimo aos pais. Mas tem que o fazer. "Os meus pais juntos, por mês, não devem ganhar mil euros. E tenho uma irmã de 13 anos." Tem direito a residência, mas, mesmo assim, não chega. Só as propinas são o equivalente à bolsa. E ainda é preciso pagar alimentação (cerca de 20 euros por semana) e passe (17,50). Saídas à noite? Livros? Nem pensar.

"O dinheiro não dá para tudo. Em Janeiro não comprei passe. Nesse mês, compensou-me andar a pé. Raramente saio à noite e, quando faço jantares, é em casa e dividido por todos", explica. Também não participa na famosa boémia coimbrã: "Não vou aos jantares de curso, fui a um ou dois. Só fiz uma queima e uma latada", conta.

Tanto ela como Marlene conhecem amigos na mesma situação que tiveram ou têm que trabalhar para pagar os estudos. Só que não declaram o que recebem, sob pena de verem a bolsa reduzida ou de a perderem. Mas Sónia é uma optimista nata. Apesar das dificuldades, nunca lhe passou pela cabeça desistir.

Marlene tem a mesma crença no futuro, apesar de já ter pensado abandonar o curso de Arte e Design. Em parte, é Ângelo, o filho de 15 meses, que a faz crer que o futuro será melhor com estudos. Combinou com o companheiro: primeiro estuda ela e ele trabalha, depois ela trabalha e ele deixa a construção civil para estudar. "Queremos os dois melhorar o nosso futuro e o do nosso filho", explica.

Marlene recebe 250 euros por mês de bolsa. Também só este mês recebeu os quatro meses atrasados. Ficaram contas por pagar. O vencimento do companheiro é pouco mais que o ordenado mínimo. O pai do Ângelo ainda arranja trabalhos extras, mas há a renda da casa, creche, transportes, propinas, alimentação... "Já ponderei deixar de estudar. Às vezes, questiono-me se não estarei a ser egoísta... É complicado, mas acredito que não é impossível."

sexta-feira, fevereiro 19, 2010

[American] National Call for March 4: Strike and Day of Action to Defend Public Education

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education — but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that “there is no alternative” to the cuts. But if there’s money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education — Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics — such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. — as well as the duration of such actions.

Let’s make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

The California Coordinating Committee

quarta-feira, fevereiro 17, 2010

Ficou sem bolsa que lhe permitia manter estudos

Carla estuda na Universidade do Minho e perdeu apoio. As duas irmãs que estudam na Universidade do Porto mantêm ajuda.
A família lutou anos a fio, mas Carla está na iminência de ter de abandonar o curso superior, porque a Universidade do Minho recusou renovar-lhe a bolsa de estudo. As duas irmãs, que estudam Medicina na Universidade do Porto, têm direito a apoio financeiro.

A família, de Famalicão, vive com dificuldades económicas - os pais foram obrigados a encerrar o minimercado e a mãe continua desempregada -, mas, ainda assim, Carla, estudante de Gestão, viu indeferido o pedido de apoio social. O mesmo apoio que teve no ano passado e que lhe permitiu pagar as propinas e suportar as despesas com os estudos. O mesmo apoio que as duas irmãs que frequentam a Universidade do Porto estão a receber. Contactada pelo «JN», a Universidade do Minho justifica a decisão com "regras técnicas", admitindo que estas regras podem diferir consoante as instituições de Ensino Superior.

O indeferimento do pedido de ajuda surge numa altura em que os pais foram obrigados a encerrar o minimercado que era sustento da família. E num ano em que uma das suas irmãs entrou para o curso de Medicina.

Carla tem três irmãos, todos a estudar: um no 10º ano e duas no curso de Medicina. A mãe está desempregada e o pai trabalha, agora, no ramo dos seguros. "Quando, em Maio, entreguei os papéis para pedir a bolsa de estudo ainda tínhamos o minimercado, mas entretanto os meus pais tiveram de fechá-lo, porque já não dava", contou a jovem. Carla acrescentou que os pais encerraram a actividade no final do ano passado.

Sem negócio e com mais uma filha a frequentar a universidade, a família tratou de actualizar a informação nos serviços de Acção Social da Universidade do Minho. Contudo, de nada valeu, porque o pedido de bolsa de estudo não foi atendido, mesmo depois da reavaliação do processo.

"Tinha uma bolsa que me dava para pagar as propinas, o alojamento e ainda chegava para as minhas despesas", diz a estudante, apreensiva com o futuro. Já tem prestações das propinas e mensalidades do alojamento em atraso.

"Não temos hipótese de pagar", desabafa a mãe, Conceição Salazar, que não tem direito a subsídio de desemprego. Conceição confessa que "ultimamente" não conseguiu pagar a Segurança Social e que tem prestação da casa em atraso, tendo apresentado documentos comprovativos de tudo.

Contactada pelo «JN», a Universidade do Minho refere que os cálculos do rendimento da família resultam num valor "de capitação média mensal que excede o limite máximo" para atribuição de bolsa. E acrescenta que a cessação de actividade da sociedade dos pais não "exclui o agregado familiar dos proveitos apurados em sede de IRC/2008".

Por outro lado, diz que se baseia em "regras técnicas" adoptadas pelas instituições de ensino superior público que aderiram à Plataforma Electrónica de candidatura a bolsas. Admite, contudo, que há instituições de ensino superior público com "regras técnicas diferentes e que podem implicar diferentes resultados de análise". "Poderá resultar a discrepância de resultados de candidatura a bolsa entre irmãs, situação que continuará a acontecer enquanto não existir um documento com regras de análise únicas a nível nacional", conclui.

domingo, fevereiro 14, 2010

[Late] Call for european debate @ Sorbonne (Paris)

What is the future of education and higher learning? This issue is now at the very core of the debate our societies face today. For years, European students have demonstrated their will to take part in decision-making on these fundamental matters. And this year, even more so, since in various European countries, a number of nefarious measures have prompted the academic world to fight back. Now that 27 countries are assembled within the European Union, it is our belief that a truly European debate must take place. Although Europe is essentially based upon economic and political principles, it needs to create its unity through other means too. While the Treaty of Lisbon’s aim is to make Europe the world’s top player in the economy of culture, it is high time for Europe’s youth and for its academic world to redefine the issue and put forth its own vision of a genuine ‘Europe of culture’: one of intellectual exchange, debates and in-depth analysis, in order to start building the world of tomorrow. We all have the means to get to know each other better, to share our experience and unite (through the internet, through associations, and public events) but, so far, no single unifying force has emerged. We need to come together to share our theoretical approaches, bring our contributions to the debate, and act together on a European scale. We have reached a point in time when we think of ourselves more and more in terms of ‘Humanity’ and less and less in terms of ‘Nations’, and education is a quintessentially human question, whatever the country, and one the people must reclaim. Who can honestly claim that THEIR education system is the best, and that THIS is the way tomorrow’s citizens should be educated?

In view of all of these issues,

The Theoria-Praxis association, with Sorbonne’s Student Board, will be organizing a great debate on the issue of education on a European scale.

This project calls for the participation of the entire academic community throughout Europe. Since all of the governmental “reforms” concerning the future of education are to be understood within the process of the European harmonization of higher education, it is absolutely necessary that the debate not be limited to each national framework. We propose to set a new phase in motion, and to unite in order to collectively debate and propose a European project for higher education.
Continue to read the text...This is why we invite the entire academic community to come to the Sorbonne (Amphitheater Richelieu, i.e., Richelieu Lecture Hall) on February 11th, 2010, from 8 PM to 11 PM. We hope that this great European meeting will give us, as citizens, the opportunity to launch a thorough reflection on issues such as studying, teaching, the social conditions of students throughout Europe, and our ability to react and fight against the present ‘reforms’.

Our political philosophy, rooted in our grassroots work in local associations, encourages us to believe that cultural agents can raise consciousness, which in turn can generate change in our societies. This is why members of associations, performing artists, photographs and filmmakers – all of them students – have worked together to make this event happen, and for us to exchange ideas, within a cultural framework, on the education we want for ourselves and the generation to come. The debate will be preceded by a public meeting at the foot of the Sorbonne (Place de la Sorbonne), from 3PM to 8PM, so as to share the event with the Parisian population. The artists will bring a festive touch to the meeting, but will also show that the academic community knows how to mobilize in creative and fulfilling ways.

After the debate, an interactive website will be created, to publicize our proposals and to get citizens to vote on them: the aim is to collect 1 million signatures through this popular referendum.

According to our Constitution, if we reach this figure, we will be able to present the European Parliament with a new project for education in Europe.

The petition will come with an interactive page, on which each citizen will be able to offer ideas to pave the way for a new education system. If this event reaches the magnitude we hope, we shall attempt, with the help of the entire European academic world, to devise a new bill for education and higher learning in Europe.
Der Ruf (Deutsch) || L’appel (Français) || Testo di appello (Italiano) || Texto de llamamiento (Español)

sábado, fevereiro 13, 2010

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (UK)

This is the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts statement of intent, passed at the National Convention on 6th February.

Statement of Intent

Fees, debt and marketisation are increasingly turning education from a right for all into a privilege for the wealthy. The NCAFC opposes all proposed and existing fees, course cuts, staff redundancies or reductions in education spending. Cuts are compounding 30 years of neo-liberal reforms which are turning our universities and colleges into businesses organised to produce profit and a pliant workforce, not critically thinking people and a better society.
Education can and should be funded not by student fees and taxes on the poor, but by progressive taxation. It should be an emancipator right, free and available to all.

We will fight for:
  • A halt to all education cuts, the abolition of all fees and a living grant for every student, in FE and HE. Tax the rich to fund education.
  • Education not profit: business out of our schools, colleges and universities.
  • A mass movement of students, including occupations, direct action and walk-outs from FE and 6th form colleges and schools, against fees and cuts. Solidarity with our lecturers, teachers and workers.
  • Fees, cuts and marketisation are affecting all areas of education; schools, FE colleges, adult and part-time education institutions are being hit and must work together in the response. Regional meetings much be concerned with issues affecting all students in different types of education.
  • This campaign also recognises that oppressed groups are being scapegoated due to the crisis, and that cuts will affect them the most. This campaign therefore commits itself to opposing all forms of racism including Islamophobia.
  • We are committed to solidarity and co-operation with Liberation organisations that share these values (including, but not limited to, the autonomous NUS liberation campaigns, all of which have free education policy), and condemn all forms of discrimination. Black, Disabled, LGBT and women students are systematically disadvantaged and discriminated by society and are disproportionately affected by fees and cuts.
  • We are an internationalist campaign. We are for solidarity with students and workers across the world in our common struggle against exploitation and oppression. We are opposed to the victimisation of students and education workers over immigration status, as well as all deportations and immigration controls. We are opposed to all imperialist wars, sanctions and occupations: UK troops out of Afghanistan now.
  • We will compile a national education activists’ contact database for co-ordinating activites.
  • To send representatives to the Bologna process counter-conference on March 11th.
  • To support the call for a national demonstration outside the Autumn conference of whichever party wins the General Election.
  • Where possible ‘cultural evenings’ will be put on in student unions nationwide with poetry, theatre, music exhibitions and other artictic forms, with guest speakers and performers invited, in opposition to fees and cuts.
  • To convene a meeting dedicated to the discussion of a united left slate in the NUS elections. All groups, networks, student unions and individual activists should be able to attend and participate.
  • To change our name to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.
  • That a national convener be elected from each region (North, South, London, East Anglia) to convene a regular open national steering committee with the regional conveners. This national organising meeting be open to all education activists.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 12, 2010

Really Open University (ROU) group @ Leeds (UK)

Here at the University of Leeds (UK) a new group called ‘The Really Open University’ has been set up. The ROU aims to help resist the planned £35 million of cuts (in a record turnout the lecturers union, UCU, recently voted to strike), but also to inject a more general critique of the neoliberal University and link to wider social struggles. Part of this will include the establishment of a ‘really open University’.
Our struggle is not simply a defensive one. We do not wish to preserve the University as it is, an elite and insular institution that reproduces the inequalities found throughout our current society. We don’t care about theories of governance, corporate strategies, we don’t care for teaching or learning how to control our imaginations! The University is bankrupt: we must work to transform education, to open it up, give people the right to study what they want to study, and teach what they want to teach, restore the value of the idea and the quest for understanding. We must create a University which bases itself on entirely different values: we call this the ‘Really Open University’. How do we build this institution? Through the occupation of the spaces where we work, play and consume and the reappropriation of this time and space for our own ends. Imagine working to produce what we need, to learn so as to enrich our lives, to wake up looking forward to Monday. Imagine a world on our own terms.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 11, 2010

University of Wroclaw (Poland) still goes on struggle of PhD students

The Union of Polish Syndicalists (Zwiazek Syndykalistow Polski - ZSP) member of International Workers Association decided to support this struggle and edit an informing bulletin about it in a context of the global campaign for free and emancipating education, which will be in free distribution at the University of Wroclaw and other schools in Poland.
Phd students of University of Wroclaw (Poland) who have started challenge for better social conditions quite long time ago are slowly becoming more radical.

Although the university derives benefits from a work of phd students (research&teaching) big part of them are totally unpaid and even though they get money for their work it is not enough to survive in the city.

The council of phd students of the university made a decision to begin protest at the beginning of December. But till now it was quiteinefficient and we weren't in fact self confident enough.

To be honest struggle is mostly focused on short time perspective and it is not very radical neither in goals nor in tactics and most people are involved because of promise of salaries' increase, but some more political demands are also present in minds of different people, but usually not in public debates.

27th of January we had our first demo. Despite bad weather conditions (about -15C) there was more than 40 people present, mostly phd students from all faculties of Uni but the demo was extremely calm. Now we havewinter break and I hope we start next semester with the bulletin with your and our texts.

PhD students in Poland ask for articles about situation in the educational sector in your countries...We ask you to send us some articles about situation in the educational sector in your countries and about a struggles performed there (in English please, but if there is no such possibility we can try to translate it also from Russian, French, German and Spanish). Please remember that majority of PhD students in Poland haven't even heardabout the International Students Movement and about the actions abroad, so try to start from the very beginning of movement in your country anddon't forget about background. We will translate your article to polishand put it in our bulletin together with news and articles aboutsituation in Poland. We also will translate our articles about Poland toEnglish and send it back to you, so you will may use it according to thecopyleft license. We are in a hurry a little bit, so we are waiting foryour texts till 12th February. Please don't write more than 1 500 words (short forms are welcomed).

quarta-feira, fevereiro 10, 2010

130 milhõ€$ de €uro$ €mpr€$tado$ a alunos

Desde Dezembro de 2007 foram celebrados 11.108 créditos, com um valor médio de 11.500 euros.
No espaço de dois anos, entre os meses de Dezembro de 2007 e 2009, os bancos portugueses contrataram com estudantes do ensino superior 128,42 milhões de euros de créditos com garantia mútua. Isto equivale, no mesmo período, a 11.108 empréstimos celebrados, com um valor médio de 11.543 euros.

Os dados - apurados no final de Janeiro - constam do último relatório da comissão de acompanhamento deste programa, criado como complemento da Acção Social Escolar, e foram divulgados na página do Ministério do Ensino Superior.

Uma ambição do ministro Mariano Gago desde 2005, o sistema de empréstimos demorou alguns anos a ser implementado. Sobretudo devido às dificuldades para negociar com a banca um tipo de financiamento que pressupõe taxas de juro muito baixas, com um spread máximo de 1%, e um período de reembolso que se estende seis a 10 anos após a conclusão da licenciatura. Mas os números mostram que, uma vez disponível, a iniciativa conquistou progressivamente alunos.

De acordo com o balanço, em Agosto de 2008 ainda só tinham sido celebrados 3.693 contratos. Mas apenas um ano depois o número já tinha subido para 7.943, chegando aos 11.108 em Dezembro. A iniciativa até já foi citada como exemplo na União Europeia. Mas continua também a ser alvo de críticas dos que consideram que o Estado - apesar de ser, em última análise, o fiador dos empréstimos - deveria aumentar o investimento directo nos alunos em vez de os convidar a assumir encargos futuros.

Os valores dos empréstimos podem rondar os 25 mil euros (cinco mil por ano no máximo), estando previsto um leque de possibilidades de reembolso que vai dos três aos 15 anos. Mas segundo os dados divulgados, cerca de 80% dos alunos optam por financiamentos até aos 15 mil.

Ao nível das licenciaturas, os valores médios de empréstimo mais altos vão para os estudantes da área da Saúde, com a Medicina Dentária a liderar o top, com valores de 18.915 euros, seguida pelas Ciências Farmacêuticas com 18.483.

Por regiões e ilhas é na Terceira, Açores, que os bancos se demonstram mais generosos - 15.343 euros em média. Valor a que não será alheio o facto de esta ilha ter registado apenas 62 empréstimos, um dos números mais baixos do País. Logo a seguir vem outra ilha, a da Madeira, com 304 alunos a receberem uma média de 13.191 euros.

Lisboa e Porto não estão entre as regiões com médias mais altas, mas entre si totalizam mais de 50 milhões de euros de empréstimos concedidos pela banca desde 2007. Já em Coimbra, outro distrito de grande tradição no ensino superior, os bancos estão entre os mais poupados: apenas 463 alunos contemplados com empréstimos médios de 10.740 euros, um valor que só supera o de Castelo Branco.

Estes valores variam, no entanto, quando se analisa a região onde estudam os alunos contemplados com os empréstimos - e não o local onde estes foram pedidos - passando Lisboa, Porto e Coimbra a liderar a lista, abrangendo mais de 67 milhões de euros entre si.

Por subsistemas, os alunos das universidades públicas absorvem quase 40,3 milhões, seguindo-se as universidades privadas com pouco mais de metade desse valor.

Dos mais de 11 mil créditos concedidos a estudantes, apenas 21 foram executados pelos bancos, num valor total de 82.429 euros. De acordo com os regulamentos, os alunos só podem ter insucesso escolar (justificando os motivos) num ano lectivo, perdendo o apoio à segunda retenção.
Mais: Apenas 30% dos empréstimos são para alunos carenciados e Catorze mil euros "que dão para pagar casa e alimentação".

terça-feira, fevereiro 09, 2010

Stop the Cuts – Defend Sussex University (UK)

We have OCCUPIED the top floor of Bramber House, University of Sussex, Brighton. There are 106 of us.

The decision to occupy has been taken after weeks of concerted campaigning during which the university management have repeatedly failed to take away the threat of compulsory redundancies and course cuts.

We recognise that an attack on education workers is an attack on us.

The room we have occupied is not a lecture theatre but a conference centre. As such, we are not disrupting the education of our fellow students; rather, we are disrupting a key part of management’s strategy to run the university as a profitable business.

They’re occupying everywhere in waves across California, New York, Greece, Croatia, Germany and Austria and elsewhere – and not only in the universities. We send greetings of solidarity and cheerful grins to all those occupation movements and everyone else fighting the pay cuts, cuts in services and jobs which will multiply everywhere as bosses and states try and pull out of the crisis.

But we are the crisis.

Profitability mean nothing against the livelihoods destroyed, lost homes, austerity measures, green or otherwise. We just heard we’ve increased ‘operational costs’ – they’d set out the building for a meeting and now they’ll have to do it again

We’ll show them “operational costs.”

Occupy again and again and again.



All the occupiers of the 8th of February

segunda-feira, fevereiro 08, 2010

Report of the Convention Against Fees and Cuts

Over 150 students, lecturers and campus staff, representing anti-cuts campaigns from more than a dozen campuses around the country [UK] attended the National Convention Against Fees and Cuts on Saturday 6th February in University College London. The Convention had been called to co-ordinate the fight against the massive cuts that the government and university managements have announced in education. At campuses all over the country, campaigns against cuts have been springing up over recent months, and demonstrations, meetings and strike ballots are taking place sporadically. The Convention voted to constitute an ongoing Campaign Against Cuts and Fees, to bring these different campaigns together and to organise structures and joint actions.

After reporting on the national situation in the opening plenary, delegates from local campaigns met with others from their region, to elect regional convenors and plan actions and future meetings on a regional and national level. Students and staff from the different campaigns took the opportunity to share reports on their local situation and discuss how best to mutually support each other. Regional co-ordination meetings will be taking place regularly in the North, the South, London and East Anglia; and regional and national email lists are being set up.

Continue to read the text...An open national steering committee will be meeting regularly – its first meeting is to take place on the 21st of February.

In workshops delegates discussed practical questions surrounding how best to build unity between staff and students, how to structure a campaign and run a successful occupation. The Convention also heard from students from the education strike movement in Austria, who had come to report to UK students and gather information to take back to their own campuses. The Convention resolved to send representatives to future European meetings and mobilisations, in particular the Bologna counter-summit in March. In discussions around attacks on student union democracy, students developed a charter of demands relating to SU democracy.

In the final session where the Campaign was officially launched, the Convention voted on a set of resolutions, which will be published shortly. It pledged support for the coming occupations and strikes against cuts, and support for students organising internationally, and for migrant workers organising on our campuses. The meeting voted to support the UCU’s national demonstration on the 20th of March.

The Convention also voted to call a national meeting to discuss running a united anti-cuts slate in the NUS, to strengthen the call for a real fight against cuts and fees in the student movement.

We call on all students and staff fighting against cuts to come and attend the regional meetings of the Convention, and co-ordinate their activities through this network.

The texts that were voted on at the Convention will be published shortly.

domingo, fevereiro 07, 2010

Some steps towards another Europe of knowledge

Europe of knowledge is burning.

Italy, Finland, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, etc: for more than two years, a huge wave of protests has raised in higher education and research. All of them reclaim freedom of education and fight against their enslavement by political and economical powers.

It is clear now that the various state policies are imbued with one and same spirit defined at a European level by a mix of the Bologna process and the Lisbon strategy that can be called "Lisbo-logna process".
A first move towards a global European action was taken in April 2009 with the counter-summit in Leuwen. A second move was the simultaneous protests in a wide variety of countries in October-December 2009, the most conspicuous of which took place in Austria and Germany.

From February to April 2010, from Paris to Madrid through the Vienna and Brussels counter-summits, now is the time for a European spring of global action. Now is the time to build our Europe of free knowledge.

The four steps of the event are described in the attached file.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 04, 2010

How America's Universities became Hedge Funds

In August 2009, just one month after the state of California cut over a billion dollars from its higher education budget, the University of California (UC) turned around and lent the state $200 million. When journalists asked the UC president, Mark Yudof, how the university could lend millions of dollars to the state, while the school was raising student fees (tuition), furloughing employees, canceling classes, and laying off teachers, Yudof responded that when the university lends money to the state, it turns a profit, but when it spends money on salaries for teachers, the money is lost.

Welcome to the university as hedge fund world. In this strange new world, institutions of higher learning care more about interest rates than educational quality. In fact, Harvard cared so much about reducing the cost of borrowing money that it made several expensive credit default swaps, which resulted in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and the halting of an ambitious expansion plan. Not only did Harvard gamble on interest rates to support future construction plans, but it moved much of its endowment into high risk investments, and the result is that the world's wealthiest education institution is now claiming poverty.
Continue to read this text...Risky Businesses

Like Harvard, the University of California was seduced by the Yale endowment manager, David Swenson, who inspired universities throughout the country to shift their investments from secure bonds and treasury notes to volatile equities and commodities. At first, schools were showing high rates of return in their investment and pension portfolios, but when these investments turned south, the universities lost billions of dollars of savings. In fact, the UC lost over $23 billion dollars in its combined pension and endowment funds, and this loss will take years to recover.

Of course, universities will say that everyone lost money in the global financial meltdown, but schools like Harvard, Yale, and the University California lost so much more than everyone else because they followed Swensen's model of shifting funds into supposedly low-risk, high-yield assets. Moreover, these schools were pushed to gamble big in their investments in order to keep up with their expensive spending habits. For the fact of the matter is that when these universities were getting double-digit returns on their investments, they continued to jack up tuition, borrow more money, and increase compensation to the top earners, but now that bottom has fallen out of their investments, they are left with no choice but to eliminate the non-tenured faculty who currently teach a majority of the students. Since it is very difficult to lay off tenured faculty, and administrators are resistant to get rid of other administrators, the only thing left to cut is the instructors without tenure, and this means courses will be cancelled and class sizes will be expanded. In short, students will be paying more and getting less because big bets did not pay off.

To understand how both public and private research universities have gotten themselves into this mess, one needs to understand five inter-related factors: the state de-funding of public education, the emphasis on research over instruction, the move to high-risk investments, the development of a free market academic labor system, and the marketing of college admissions. These different forces have combined to turn universities into corporations centered on pleasing bond raters in order to get lower interest rates so that they can borrow more money to fund their unending expansion and escalating expenses.

The Defunding of Higher Ed

Starting in 1980, as part of the Reagan revolution and the desire to cut the taxes of the wealthiest Americans, states began to reduce their funding for public universities. In order to counter this loss of funds, public research universities had to look for other revenue streams, and not only did they raise tuition to make up for the reduction of state support, but they also expanded the research parts of their budget.

This move to find new revenue through research activities was enabled in 1980 by the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, which allowed universities for the first time to buy and sell research produced at federally funded labs. Not only did this law push universities to seek profits by selling the results of their research, but the move to increase research triggered a major expansion of administration and staff. It turns out that in order to perform high-level research, schools need to hire an army of lawyers, accountants, regulators, and staff. After all, they have to have administrators and staff to run compliance offices, regulate research centers, oversee venture capital enterprises, and to administer fund-raising activities. They also need administrators to watch over the other administrators, and then they need staff to collect the information so that administrators can watch over other administrators, and of course, these institutions need computer staff to compile the data to give to the staff so they can give it to the administrator who gives it to another administrator, and once one gets to this level of complication, one needs a whole set of other people to see if everyone is following the state and federal guidelines, and the expansion continues to infinity.

A result then of the growing emphasis on research is that the number of administrators has expanded, while the number of faculty has remained flat. For instance, during the last decade, the number of administrators in the UC system has doubled, while the number of faculty has increased 25%; in fact, nationally, there is now one higher ed administrator for every faculty member. Moreover, many administrators pull in huge salaries, and they often bring with them a purely corporate mentality that is in conflict with the stated missions of educational institutions.

Pleasing the Bond Raters

To support the expansion of research and the increased cost of bureaucracy, universities have to borrow huge sums of money. For example, during its recent financial crisis, the University of California applied for over a billion dollars for construction bonds, and almost all of this debt will go to build new research facilities. In response to these bond applications, Moody's gave the UC system a high bond rating, which will result in low interest rates, further fueling more borrowing. Moreover, as UC Santa Cruz Professor Bob Meister has revealed, the UC is using student fees and tuition as collateral for its construction bonds. In this modified credit swap, students are forced to take out subprime students loans, often charging 6% interest, so that the university can borrow money at a reduced rate.

Not only do the bond raters help to determine the cost of borrowing, but they also tell universities what they should do in order to attain a clean bill of fiscal health. For instance, Moody's slipped into its bond rating for the UC system, the need for the institution to restrain labor costs, increase tuition, diversify revenue streams, feed the money-making sectors, and resist the further unionization of its employees. Like the IMF or World Bank, the bond raters tie access to credit to the dismantling of the public sector and the adoption of free market fundamentalism.

In the case of the UC system, it appears that the President Yudof is taking his marching orders from the bond raters and is doing everything in his expanded powers to feed money into the privatized profitable sectors, while starving the non-revenue generating public areas, like instruction. Yudof's core values were revealed when he described the fiscal status of the UC system on the PBS News Hour: "Many of our, if I can put it this way, businesses are in good shape. We're doing very well there. Our hospitals are full, our medical business, our medical research, the patient care?-so we have this core problem, who's gonna pay the salary of the English Department? We have to have it. Who's gonna pay it, and Sociology, and the humanities, and that's where we're running into trouble." For many people inside and outside of higher education, Yudof's statement may seem jarring, but for bond raters, his argument makes perfect sense. From a purely financial perspective, there are profitable ventures and unprofitable ones, and only the areas bringing in money should be nourished.

Of course, lately, bond raters have been proven to be questionable experts when it comes to predicting the financial health of institutions, and in the case of judging universities, not only do the raters seem to have the wrong values, but they also have the wrong numbers. In contrast to Yudof's statement, the reality is that it is the humanities and the social sciences that actually subsidize the research centers and not the other way around. Studies have shown that humanities' programs often educate most of the undergraduate students, and they do this with relatively inexpensive teachers and low overhead. In fact, most humanities' departments turn a huge profit that is then distributed to support the supposedly profit-making sectors. Since federal and corporate-sponsored grants often fail to cover the full cost of buildings, administration, labs, staff, maintenance, and utilities, money has to be taken from undergraduates and humanities programs to subsidize the research sectors.

Marketing Academic Labor

The twin engines of increased debt and an emphasis on research have fueled a third new market force, which is the academic free agent system. In order for universities to remain highly ranked, they feel that they must compete for the best faculty, and the best faculty are often defined by how much other schools are wiling to pay them. In the UC system, for example, there is an official salary scale, but over 85% of the faculty are now off the scale, and this means that many of them have negotiated private deals with a dean. Not only does this system turn everyone into competitive individualists, but it also circumvents the peer review process that is supposed to be at the heart of the modern democratic university.

In elite private and public universities, many faculty members search for outside offers from competing institutions every year so that professors can renegotiate their deals, and these deals not only include higher compensation but also less time in the classroom. One of the results of this system is that the more universities pay star professors, the less teaching they do, and the less loyal they are to the institution. In turn, star faculty, administrators, and coaches hold universities hostage by threatening to go to a competitor. This compensation system has gotten so out-of-hand that in 2008, there were over 3,600 employees in the UC system making more than $200,000.

Marketing Enrollment

Mirroring the free market star economy is the market-based enrollment system. Universities now believe that to get the "best" students, they have to offer the best aid packages, and what has happened is that many top universities have moved much of their financial aid from need to merit. One of the problems with this structure is that merit is often based on SAT scores, and SAT scores have been shown to be heavily correlated with wealth. The end result of switching from a need-based to a merit-based financial aid system is that lower- and middle-class students end up subsidizing the wealthiest students because in order to give the top students large aid packages, the universities have to raise the tuition on everyone else.

In his book Tearing Down the Gates, Peter Sacks has shown that not only do SAT scores predict the wealth of the students' parents, and not the success the students will have in college, but SAT scores also determine a school's ranking in the all-powerful U.S. News & World Report college guidebook. Therefore, by accepting students with high SAT scores, universities not only increase their rankings, but they also bring in wealthy students who will help build the schools' endowments in the future.

The speculative market-based system that universities use to recruit students is coupled with the way these institutions spend lavishly on new facilities to attract potential enrollees. It seems that universities believe that is easier to please students outside of the classroom rather than inside, so they pour money into new fitness centers, entertainment complexes, sports arenas, restaurants, and shopping malls. Of course, all of these extracurricular activities require expensive new buildings, which require more debt, and more efforts to please the bond raters.

The expansion and revenue diversification of American universities has gotten so out of hand that research universities, like UCLA, now spend less than 5% of their total budget on undergraduate instruction. No wonder universities feel free to expand class sizes and hire people off of the street to teach required courses; instruction is just a small part of what these institutions now do, and since there are no accepted methods to judge the quality of undergraduate instruction or learning, there is no incentive for schools to put their resources into educational activities.

The lack of educational quality control in higher education results in a continual increase in tuition costs because universities have no incentive to concentrate their efforts and budgets on instruction. Since no one is rating or ranking these schools on what students are learning or how effective the professors are at teaching, these institutions feel free to spend student tuition dollars and state funding on expensive research and bloated bureaucracy. In fact, while most schools insist that students are not paying the full cost of their education, UC Berkeley professor, Charles Schwartz has shown that virtually every university inflates the advertised cost of education so that they can constantly raise tuition and use the added income to support profit-making ventures and risky financial investments.

Possible Solutions

To make the spending habits of universities more transparent and to make them prioritize undergraduate education, the first thing that has to be done is that the federal government needs to insist on a shared system for assessing instruction at American universities. Rather than basing a school's reputation on the SAT scores and the high school grade point averages of the incoming students, the new system of assessment should actually look at how much the students are learning in their classes and how effective the teachers are in promoting quality education. It is important to stress that this type of national quality control already exists, but universities refuse to publish the findings of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). Instead of using these scientific methods of assessments, schools, students, and parents rely on highly questionable rating guides like The U.S News & World Report.

If education, and not just research and SAT scores, became the key to a school's reputation, these institutions would be forced to put money into instruction, and this process would reverse the current practice of using student tuition dollars to subsidize research and administration. Furthermore, once there is an accepted method for rating the quality of instruction, we can begin to drive down the costs. After all, what often makes tuition go up is that students and taxpayers are forced to fund the escalating salaries of professors and administrators who often have no connection to undergraduate instruction.

The next essential change for universities is to admit that some researchers should only research, and some teachers should only teach. Therefore, universities need to establish three types of professors: Teaching Professors, Research Professors, and Hybrid Professors. This model will help to clear up many problems because if we stop forcing all research professors into the classroom, we will be able to allow them to concentrate on what they do best and avoid what they sometimes do in an ineffective manner. In fact, the common practice of states and students paying for expensive research professors to teach ends up driving up the cost of instruction and allows people who have a proven record of being ineffective teachers to continue to lower the quality of instruction. Furthermore, the entire incentive system at research universities privileges research over teaching, and so for many research professors, we should simply make the research priority the rule and get rid of the false myth that research and teaching go hand-and-hand.

If we allow researchers to be rewarded for what they do best, we should also provide incentives for teachers to concentrate on instruction. By providing tenure for the people who do most of the teaching at research universities, undergraduate instruction can become an important priority. While some professors may say that by splitting research off from instruction, we are losing the whole point of going to a research university, studies show that the research mission often robs the instructional budget, and there is no proof that a good researcher will make a good teacher; in fact, the opposite is often the case. Once teaching becomes a priority and schools stop robbing their instructional budgets to pay for other things, it will be possible to teach students in small, interactive classes. Moreover, if we create a third class of professors, the hybrids, who would be judged equally for their research and their teaching, we can reward the people who do bring together new knowledge with effective instruction.

To help motivate research universities to make some of these changes, parents and students should sue schools for false advertising. The simple fact of the matter is that many universities present false information concerning class size and who really does the teaching at their institutions. Also, schools make inaccurate claims concerning the cost of undergraduate education, and by inflating budgets, tuition is driven up. Universities have to clearly state how they spend their money, and the federal government, which provides financial aid and research dollars to both private and public institutions, should be able to hold these institutions accountable. The government can also step in and stop guidebooks from using false and misleading information. After all, a college education is one of the most important and expensive purchases in a person's life, and accurate and truthful information should be provided.

Finally, the federal government must insist on budget transparency and a careful monitoring of how grants and endowment funds are managed. Currently, Senator Grassley is investigating how the UC medical schools are using NIH grants, and his office is trying to determine how billions of dollars of federal money are being allocated. His staff has insisted on an external audit of the medical schools' budgets, and so far the senator's office has been unable to determine if federal grants are being used for their intended use. This lack of budget transparency and clarity shows why we need to force universities to provide clear and reliable information. Without increased regulation and oversight, these institutions will continue to function as volatile hedge funds that ignore their central mission, which is after all instruction and not construction.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 03, 2010

Demo 4 «Free Education and self-determined Life»

Demonstration on January 30th in Frankfurt/M [Germany].
Temperature: - 3 degrees celsius
Duration: 4 hours

Utrecht (in the Netherlands): students occupy the University administration building

On the morning of February 1st, a group of students occupied the main building of the University of Utrecht. The students are protesting against the university's board decision to stop publishing the paper version of the University Newspaper. The action is the first of a series of national initiatives to stop budget cuts in education.

Communiqué: University of Utrecht, the Board of Directors building, February 1st 2010
Continue to read the communiqué...The Board of Directors crossed the line this time, and this is unacceptable! Despite all efforts to save the paper version of the Ublad (the University newspaper) with the support of thousands of students, professors and the complete U-raad (Council of representatives of the University community), they continue to impose their controversial policies. In the meantime, the quality of our education is at risk and our student grants are about to be cut. This is why we, the occupiers of the building of the Board of Directors at the University of Utrecht, feel obliged to take action and take a stand in favor of an independent, paper version of the Ublad, for the democratization of our University government, and against the cuts on our education imposed by the Dutch government.

By cancelling the paper version of the Ublad, it has become impossible to keep the University community informed and to guarantee a democratic voice. The University should be a place for independent thinking and should always provide space for criticism. An independent University newspaper is precisely what we need in order to move the university community to start a dialogue and become engaged with each other and society.

In our view, this issue concerning the Ublad is one out of many attempts to transform the University into a company where the Board and her professional managers have their way at the expense of democracy, quality, diversity and scientific integrity. These core values which the University must represent, should be reflected in the way the University is governed. In fact, the University should be directly governed by the University community itself, instead of a non-democratically chosen clique.

Our concerns are not limited to Utrecht, because we are faced with drastic nationwide reforms such as the budget cuts on education, the possible cutting of student grants, the implementation of BSA (Binding Study Advice), and our minister of Education’s neglect to defend the proposition for a ‘student assessor’(a student in the Board of Directors). The position of the University and education in society is too important to be left up to and controlled by market mechanisms. This global process is negatively affecting education worldwide and has to be stopped immediately!

In Europe and the rest of the world, protests against this process are visible evidenced by the almost hundred occupations and mass demonstrations in the Global Week of Action in November 2009. Now it’s our turn and we demand the following:

  • The Ublad in its current paper format with an independent editor must be permanently secured by the Board of Directors of the University of Utrecht.
  • The U-raad of the University of Utrecht has the right to demand binding referenda, facilitated by the University of Utrecht, for issues they consider important. This will be recorded in the statutes.
  • The U-raad of the University of Utrecht will get a direct voice in all decisions made by the Board of Directors of the University of Utrecht by a right to a fixed vote by U-raad majority and a veto right in case of unanimity of the U-raad.
  • All participants and others involved in the occupation of the University of Utrecht on the 1st of February 2010 will be exempted from all charges, now and in the future, by the University of Utrecht and other parties and may leave the occupied building and terrain without involvement of other parties.
  • The current minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr. Ronald Plasterk, will publically offer his apologies to the Dutch people for the deterioration of education during his watch.
  • The cabinet will publicly announce to stop the budget cuts and ensure more investment in higher education per capita.
Our duty as student activists will not be over until we are heard and our demands are met. Therefore, we encourage all students, teachers and parents to resist the structural deterioration of our education and take a stand for decent public education that everyone is entitled to.
Save our education!

France: national demo for public Education

On January 30th, a national demonstration for public Education gathered between 8.000 and 12.000 persons in Paris.

We were fighting against cuts, programs weakening, and suppression of thousands of teachers jobs, and against the reform of the recruitment of the teachers which opens the doors to the employment of teachers without the status of civil servant.

terça-feira, fevereiro 02, 2010

Scotland: protest against cuts to education

On Wednesday 27 January, students and staff from schools and universities all over Scotland gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to demonstrate against cuts to the education budget.
The protest was called by Edinburgh University's Student Association and supported by the Educational Institute of Scotland, UCU and NUS in response to the cuts being faced by Moray House, the school of education at the University of Edinburgh. The school may have to cut around 300 student places, which could in turn lead to up to forty staff redundancies. This comes as the Scottish Government abandons its election promise of cutting class sizes in primary education. One student questioned how staff were to roll out the so-called Curriculum for Excellence, which has the stated aim of achieving "a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum," while contracting the "excellent teachers" who could deliver it.

About 150 protesters marched from Moray House to the Scottish Parliament where a delegation from UCU went in to speak to ministers. While outside, the protesters chanted and sang songs and were met by several MSPs, including Richard Baker, MSP for the North East region of Scotland, who came out to show their support. During the protest, a class of school children were being given a tour of the parliament building and clapped and cheered when going past the protesters.

Towards the end of the rally the demonstrators were addressed by the Shadow Minister for Schools, Ken Macintosh, EUSA's external convenor, Katherine McMahon, and a UCU representative.

The demonstration was followed by a meeting where groups from different universities, including the Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign and the president of NUS Scotland, Liam Burns, discussed how to coordinate action against cuts to the education budget, in particular Lord Mandelson's proposed 950 million pound cuts in higher education spending.

A statement from the president of Dundee University's Student Association called on students to oppose the view that universities should be run as businesses. "Education is the bedrock of any society and needs investment."

Terry Wrigley from the UCU pointed out that the Government has money to bail out the banks and rebuild trident, but that when it comes to education and other public services people are told that they will have to pay for the recession.

Aberdeen Defend Education Campaign

Nigeria: students protest hike in tuition fees

Academic activities at Ebonyi State University (EBSU) were partially paralysed yesterday following peaceful demonstration by the students, mostly non-indigenes to press home their grievances over the disparity in the recent increment in school fees of indigenes and non-indigenes.

The students numbering over 2.000 took to the streets of Abakaliki, the state capital and marched from their permanent site to the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) campus which harbours the administrative headquarters of the university, as they chanted war songs.

The protesting students also complained of high price of private hostel accommodation in town due to non-residential system of the university, insecurity of students, inadequate social amenities in the school and alleged government interference with the activities of the Students Union.

Placards carried by the students had inscriptions such as, "say no to 10 per cent reduction in EBSU school fees", "share it 50-50", "reduce the school fees now", "say no to discrimination in EBSU" among others alleged that the school management recently increased the school fees from N19, 000 to N80, 000 for non-indigenes and N19, 000 to N60, 000 for indigenes.

Continue to read the text...The protest that started in the earlier hours saw the students blocking most of the major roads leading to the university main campus, Ezzamgbo, disrupting the on-going examination at the main campus before marching to the other campuses in the state.

At Ishieke and the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) campus of the institution, the students disrupted commercial activities in the area forcing most shops and filling stations to close their business premises while commercial and private vehicles near the area deserted the streets temporarily as the students were carrying logs, fresh leaves and chanting war songs.

The students described as unfortunate the recent increment in view of the economic hardship in the country regretting that the increment is so exorbitant that most parents are left with no option than to withdraw their wards from the school.

Some of the students who spoke to the Daily Champion on condition of anonymity criticised the disparity in the school fees of non-indigenes and indigenes urging the state government to reduce the increment and make the school fees uniform.

"The school authorities can not go on and increase school fees without the provision of necessary facilities that are expected to be in a higher institution. It is so unfortunate that the school does not have a single hostel, no toilet facilities; we don't even have good drinking water in the school. Now that the school fees have been increased, we expect them at least to reduce the fees and make it affordable for parents".

"The authorities should also use the proceeds to build hostels and provide other amenities in the school. This would generate fund for the school rather than increasing school fees. We call on the state government to look into our plight as most of us; our parents cannot afford N80, 000 every semester".

When our reporter placed a call to the Public Relations Officer of the university (PRO), Mr. Larry Udu his telephone rang out. However, the Personal Assistant to the State Governor on Higher Education, Prof. Mike Otuma when contacted said the State government was shocked over the protest noting that after due consultation with the students union, the school management and the state government, the school fees was recently reduced by 10 per cent.

He urged the students to always embrace dialogue in resolving issues with the school management adding that the state would also invite the leadership of the students' union body and the school management to further dialogue on the issues.