Due to recent developments in Serbia that are severely damaging student’s status and rights, Students Union of Serbia is issuing following release describing situation from students perspective.
A month ago Serbian parliament has adopted a new law on Higher Education, introducing new terms and conditions that are putting students in a difficult situation. Before going into details of the law changes, we would like to explain suspicious conditions under which this law was adopted.New law has been adopted just 10 days before the beginning of the new academic year, in the middle of the examination period, and on top of it all it enters into force immediately. This means that rules have changed without warning and are effective immediately, right on time for the new academic year.
This law has terminated the basic rights that have always existed in High education in Serbia and this law has been adopted without involvement of students, or any reference to their requests and opinions. Students union of Serbia (SUS) and Students conference of universities of Serbia (SKONUS) decided to start massive protests throughout the country, covering all university cities, due to the disadvantaged position students were put in. Yesterday and today these protests showed clear dissatisfaction, resulting in over 3.000 students marching down the streets of Belgrade towards the Ministry of Education. Minister wasn’t even at the building and all of our requests were denied.
Our requests are rather simple and reasonable. We have divided them into „short-term” and “long-term“ and we demand that certain changes in law are postponed before urgent problems like question of quality of education and defining of student programs are resolved.
Our main short-term demands are:
That the number of mandatory exam periods in school year 2014/2015. remains 6 (this has been a practice for a long time in the past, and they have cut it down to 5) ;
That students who enrolled in the first year of school studies 2010/2011, or 2011/2012 retain the right to be financed from the budget for the maximum period of one year at the end of regular duration of studies, as it was done so far ;
That despite of the provision of Article 94.paragraph 1. of the Law on higher education, the status of a student who does not complete the studies by the deadline specified in paragraph 4 of this Article , should not be terminated and shall be extended until the end of a school year 2015/2016.
Long-term demands include:
Development of the new Law of Higher Education with relevant student representatives being actively involved in a focus group proposing this new Law ;
Finding a long-term solution to problems of quality in education, loads and sparse descriptions of study programs and student courses, with relevant student involvement.
Latest news is that after today’s protests management of University of Belgrade dismissed the students’ parliaments in order to disable students’ movement.
Our battle is just beginning and new protests will be scheduled shortly.
United for students’ rights,
International officer of SUS