segunda-feira, maio 31, 2010

Student fined by University over dating website

A student was fined by his University and told his degree could be forfeit after he created a website enabling his peers to exchange flirty messages.
Rich Martell, 21, was forced to pay £300 and take the site down after University College London (UCL) deemed that the website, FitFinder, brought the institution into disrepute.

The site, which allowed UCL students to flirt with each other online, reached five million hits within four weeks of opening and was soon spread to other universities.

Authorities at UCL deemed the website an undesirable distraction from academic work, and representatives of other universities also contacted UCL to complain about the site, The Times reported.

The final-year computer sciences student was told he could put his degree in jeopardy unless he disabled it. He reportedly described the action against him as harsh.

An online petition to reinstate the site had more than 4200 signatures on Sunday night. A message from Mr Martell on the web page said: "We have been placed under increasing pressure to take the website offline by Universities.

"Subsequently we have decided to remove FitFinder BUT we hope this is only temporary. PLEASE PLEASE sign our petition to being fitfinder back online! With your support we can be a nation of fitties once again!"

A University spokesman said: "UCL does not approve of or condone this site. UCL has no jurisdiction over it.

"We have, however, taken disciplinary action against the student for bringing the college into disrepute and he has been fined."

sexta-feira, maio 21, 2010

Violent student protests in Slovenia

Slovenian students violently protested against planned Government reforms that would limit their work during studies and thus lower their income.
The protest began in Slovenian capitol Ljubljana's city center where about 15,000 students gathered to protest against the planned Government reforms that would limit the ammount of work they can do alongside their studies. This would further worsen their financial situation on top of the negative stipend politics of Slovenian Government. In the afternoon, they moved in front of Slovenian parliament building where they started throwing stones, eggs, signposts or anything that could be thrown into the parliament building or the police. On several occasions they attacked the police that responded with pepper spray. Eventually, they caused severe damage to the parliament building, many windows were broken, a molotow was thrown in front of the building, about 30 students were arrested.

quinta-feira, maio 20, 2010

Student protest in Republic of Macedonia

Today once again students of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia are protesting demanding (among other things) free/state subsidized higher education, as well as a new way for student organizing consisting of a student parliament based on direct democracy.
We feel that the present structure of the student union (which was recently only renamed to "student parliament" but the people there are the same) works only for the selfish needs of the few people that are in that institution, does not protect and promote the students' rights and does not care about students' needs and problems. On the last elections for student leader, the new leader was elected and according to their statute - he is legitimate, with only 26% (~7800) of all students voted, out of which supposedly around 6000 students voted for him. And the total number of students is 30 000! And they call that legitimate. And the university and the state recognizes him.

Therefore a year ago, as some of you probably know, a group of conscious students arose and formed the independent student movement "Sloboden Indeks" (which is a non-hierarchical movement with no leader or executive board) whose goals are not to replace the student union, but to change the way the present system works by making education available for all classes of citizens regardless of social status, as well as by introducing a new way of student organizing - direct democracy where there are no elections, no student representatives, but where every student is a representative of himself or herself. This way we feel that students will have greater input in solving their problems at their faculties, plus the chance for manipulation by a political party (which is defacto the case with the student union - government controlled) will be minimal if not extinct.

On the question of the Bologna process which was introduced some 6-7 years ago, opinions are divided amongst the activists and students. It did introduce the tuition, yes (before, there were only very small administrative fees) but at *some* faculties the new teaching program contributed to a better quality of education in comparison to the previous system, according to students of those particular faculties. In other faculties on the other hand the problem is that the Bologna process is not fully implemented or respected by the administration and/or professors. So the situation is complicated. While at its core, most of us activists agree with the general statements against it, we decided not to articulate it and be against/for it as is, but instead we will focus on the concrete problems every faculty or student at a particular faculty has.

And in the end I would like to apologize for the lack of communication from our side during this period since the international student day last year. Reason is that the number of committed activists dropped unfortunately and it's very hard especially in a largely apathetic society like Macedonia and in a grassroots movement like Sloboden Indeks to stimulate people to take responsibility by themselves and contribute to the movement without having any personal gain.

Anyway, we are not giving up and we are continuing our global struggle one way or another.

~ One world, one struggle ~

sábado, maio 15, 2010

Move it on over: time’s up, students are told

University goes to court to serve protesters with eviction notice.
Middlesex University is applying for a High Court injunction against its own students in a bid to end an occupation sparked by the closure of philosophy courses.
About 50 philosophy students and their supporters occupied the Mansion Building at the university’s Trent Park campus in north London, after it was announced that Middlesex would phase out all undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the subject.

There are fears that the decision could spell the end for the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, which was Middlesex’s highest-rated department in the 2008 research assessment exercise.

The students first occupied a room on 4 May in protest at the failure of senior university managers to attend a meeting to discuss the course closures. They later extended the occupation throughout the building.

Middlesex threatened the students with an injunction today. When they refused to budge, the University moved ahead with an application in the High Court.

Earlier this year, the University of Sussex issued an injunction preventing students from protesting on campus after an occupation of management offices sparked by its plans for more than 100 redundancies. The Middlesex notice, from law firm Nabarro LLP, states: “Your occupation of the Mansion Building constitutes an unauthorized trespass.

“Our client has sought to deal with this matter amicably but in light of your failure to vacate the building despite our client’s requests, our client has no choice other than to take legal action to secure your removal.

“Our client will apply to the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, at the earliest opportunity for immediate injunctive relief unless all protesters in occupation of the Mansion Building vacate within one hour and return control of the building to our client (...) Our client must reserve its position in every respect including the issue of the costs of this action.”

In an email to staff, Middlesex’s vice-chancellor, Michael Driscoll, describes the student occupation as “illegal” and says it “raises serious concerns surrounding health and safety, disruption to the working of the University and costs of security”. He adds that students did not respond to the legal notice. “The University is now seeking an emergency injunction to end the occupation and recover the Mansion Building,” he says.

sexta-feira, maio 14, 2010

State of Puerto Rico locks students inside UPR

Just yesterday, May 13th, the students of the Rio Piedras’ campus of University of Puerto Rico ratified the 22 day strike with an evident majority of votes in favor at a General Assembly that was proposed and organized by the institution’s own administration. Today that same administration backed with full government support have intensified and reinforced their represive schemes against the student movement stepping over our constitutional right to protest. We condemn rector Ana Guadalupe’s decision to activate the police forces against us and we reiterate yesterday’s vote demanding her resignation as well as president Jose Ramón De la Torre’s. Since 4am there has been heavy police presence around the campus; different police units have been brought to guard all posible entrances and to restrict access of students and those in solidarity. We wish to publicly alert the national and international media that up until now they have prohibited not only the entrance of civilians, but also and more alarming, the entry of food donations and supplies needed by the hundreds of students that are currently occupying the campus. The students that reside on campus are being forced to move out and are being threatened with the nonrenewal of housing contracts. We also expect water and electricity on campus to be cut off by 1:00pm.

We exhort all students, professors, workers and civilians; every member of every community, to surround the university gates as they have done themselves. We exhort everybody’s presence here today; we need everyone’s solidarity and support if we are to endure this struggle. We want to let the administration know that their attempts to intimidate have been not only represive but exagerated and unnecesary. We will not allow that the democracy the university’s administration proclaims to practice be arbitrary and partial. Those who participated in the General Student’s Assembly yesterday, experienced a real democratic process in action. The assembly is sovereign and in assembly we voted to continue the strike. We are here to defend the right of all puertorican students to a public education and here we will remain until the administration decides to cooperate and negotiate.

We need everyone’s solidarity and support. Ten out of the eleven campuses that make up the UPR system have declared themselves on strike. All are participating of the same struggle. The same struggle being fought all over the World.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Humanities Action Comitee,
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus

quinta-feira, maio 13, 2010

Don’t Panic, Organise!

A «Mute» special on Struggle in Education Today
The cuts, lay-offs and tuition-fee hikes that are besetting higher and further education internationally are naturally a direct response to the drama of the financial crisis and its ricocheting bomb of personal, commercial and national debt. But they also have deeper roots. They should be understood as part of the more gradual process of what George Caffentzis, in his analysis of the international situation, calls the ‘breakdown of the edu-deal'; the inability for capital, and therefore the state, to pay for the costs of producing a well educated workforce or to guarantee that investment in education will result in a more vigorous economy and increased living standards for those with qualifications.

This breakdown, and the dogmatism of free market economics which seeks to alleviate it, has seen the imposition of a business rationale onto what previously had been regarded as the provision of a public service, sometimes even a public good. From the investment of endowment funds on the market, to the conversion of students into (badly ripped off) consumers, to the no-frills fixed-term contracts being doled out to staff, to the speculative purchase of the future IP generated by scientific and technical departments, to the intended exchangeability of all qualifications under the Bologna Process, education has been infested by the value form.

With the ground changing this fast under staff and students' feet, the ability for collective action to fight the savage rounds of cuts has itself suffered as a result of a generalised precarity and fragmentation. Despite the hostile conditions, we are nevertheless seeing an intermittent but persistent wave of strikes, actions and occupations, both wildcat and union co-ordinated, breaking out around the world. Other initiatives such as cross-institutional teach-ins, blogs, power-mapping exercises, conferences and demonstrations are also creating a steady hum of background pressure and preparation. All of this begs the question, will it be enough to save any residual quality and equality within education and its institutions? With the state of struggle in education our principal question, Mute has created a mini-dossier of reports, questionnaires and analyses on the education crisis as it unfolds in the UK and beyond.

quarta-feira, maio 12, 2010

Bulgarian students protest against subsidies cuts

Hundreds of students and professors protested Tuesday in front of Sofia University against a reduction in state education subsidies, bulgarian media reported.
The protest, in front of the country's oldest university, was staged under the motto "Today's policies kill tomorrow's education." "We are here to show that we care about Bulgaria's higher education," one of the protesters was quoted by local media as saying.

Students and professors warned that Bulgaria's education would "die if there were further cuts in funding" and have asked the government to make education a priority.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said that the country had to do some "belt tightening" and that everyone was facing a crisis. "This year will be very difficult for everyone, but we will survive and the next year everything will be back to normal," Borisov told reporters in Sofia. "Europe is in a crisis, people everywhere are reducing salaries and pensions."

The government in Sofia decided last week to cut all government spending by 20 per cent in order to reduce the budget deficit.

domingo, maio 09, 2010

European Education Congress

The European Education Congress 2010 in Bochum will be a place for everyone interested in education from all over Europe to gather, network, exchange experiences and ideas and learn about the educational system in context. A focus will be on the theoretical grounding of differing conceptions of education, as well as the functions education and the educational system have in our society.

Education is a precondition for participation in all social interactions. However, in many aspects, the current educational systems are not geared towards enabling an understanding of social interrelations and taking part in the shaping of social changes. But only with everyones participation is it possible for a society which guarantees the broadest level of freedom for all to develop. It is therefore time to analyse the current and possible future
functions of education and its influence on decision-making processes in a society.

The congress is open to all people and depends on their participation. In order to allow for a maximum of interaction, the number of lectures will be kept to a minimum, instead workshops, discussions and other participatory forms of communication will dominate the program. As the division between active contributors and passive visitors exemplifies one of the many problems of current educational systems, participants themselves are encouraged to offer contributions on educational topics of their choice. These might range from giving inputs to a discussion to offering workshops or other activities.

People are encouraged to register their contribution on our website. For a chance of inclusion in the congress guide this has to happen before the 7th of May. All participants are kindly asked to register on our website, in order to help the organisational team with the planning. Participants in need of reimbursements for their travel expenditures should also register
before the 7th of May. Though financial support for everyone cannot be guaranteed, we will try our very best to make it possible for everyone to be able to participate. Congress attendance will be free of charge, there will be free meals and places to sleep will be offered. In order to support the congress, donations are highly appreciated.

sábado, maio 08, 2010

EurEduCon 2010: European Education Congress

Call for the European Education Congress 2010
  • slated date: 25th till 30th of May
The Congress is open to all people who are interested in education and depends on everyone to contribute to it. In order to have a wide discussion during those five days, we hope that calls from as many people as possible shall be sent for the Education Congress.

To us, education is a precondition for participating in social processes. However, in many aspects the current educational system is not able to enable people to understand social interrelations and to empower them to a mature taking part in social changes. But only if everyone participates, a society which guarantees the most broad level of freedom for all individuals and thus finds the most broad level of acceptance, can develop.

At the same time we come to the conclusion, that the goal of establishing free education for everyone worldwide seems to have moved out of reach in the last years. The educational system is cross-nationally exposed to different reforms. It is time to analyze these changes, especially in context of the arrangement of the whole society, and to develop alternatives to the status quo.

Therefore we want to discuss together: which functions do school systems and systems of higher education have in different European countries and regions? What does self determined living and learning mean? How can we establish free access to education for everyone? How are educational system and society related to one another? Do institutions of higher education (re)produce social inequality and how could this inequality be broken? How can we establish democratic, self determined structures at schools and institutions of higher education? What is commercialization of education, what influence do commercial enterprises have in this process and how can this influence be broken? How can Europe-wide solidarity be established?

Click here to continue reading...This congress should facilitate an Europe-wide exchange, analyzing the context of education and society. We want to give attention to decision-making processes of society to establish a democratization of society.

Thus, for everyone interested in education and education policy: Come to the European Education Congress from the 25th till 30th of May 2010 at the Ruhr-University in Bochum!

We invite you to spend five days with us, analyzing the current educational system and its functions critically. Let us think about the meaning of good education, what the requirements of a progressive educational system are and which paths could lead to such a system. This will be done in different methods of learning such as workshops, plenary meetings, lectures, panel discussions and concrete experiences. All supporting persons and groups are called to bring in such activities of their own, to introduce texts and to contribute to the congress. At the same time there will be opportunity to exchange experiences from different countries and regions and for international networking to enable further cooperation.

quarta-feira, maio 05, 2010

Middlesex: Students in Occupation @ Boardroom

Students and lecturers at Middlesex University (Trent Campus), campaigning to stop the closure of the Philosophy department, were stood up by their Dean this [yesterday] morning – and took matters into their own hands. Some students are staging a sit-in in the corridor outside the Dean’s office, others have locked themselves inside, demanding that the Dean turn up and face his accusers.

The campaign has also agreed to send a delegation to the UCU strike demo in Central London tomorrow.

The occupiers have this to say:
“Last week, we were invited to a meeting with Dean of Arts Ed Esche and Deputy VC Margaret House at 10.30 on Tuesday 4th May (the day before our deadlines), to address our concerns about the closure of our Philosophy Department. Re-arranging our commitments at great inconvenience to ourselves, we arrived at the campus for the meeting, only to find it that they had cancelled it the night before.

Security attempted to stop us entering the corridor and called the police, however the police decided to take no action. The students are now sitting in the board room (around 5 feet from the Dean’s office door), waiting for the Dean to show up and address our concerns.

Students are unanimous in our demand: allow us the meeting you promised us. We have voted unanimously to remain here in occupation in protest of the refusal to meet us.”

terça-feira, maio 04, 2010