By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
VIENNA, Austria – Student groups in Austria protested again yesterday against what they see as poor educational conditions in the nation’s schools. Approximately 30,000 students marched this past week in Vienna in opposition of proposed educational reforms and in favor of an overhaul in the nation’s educational system. These marches, which have taken place in many of the country’s largest cities in recent days, have been organized by student organizations.
Students and teachers at the Academy of Fine Arts (AFA) in Vienna protested against this new educational reform proposal that is being adopted across Europe. These reforms, known as the Bologna Process, are meant to the make it easier for students to study abroad and obtain degrees that can be recognized in other nations. The AFA protesters alleged, however, that these reforms would prevent their ability to construct personally tailored degree programs.
The lack of funding for Austrian universities that currently exists has caused some of the student leaders to call for an end to free access to higher education. Student Dominik Karas commented that “to increase the standard of education it would be better to reinstall tuition fees.”
Students at the University of Vienna also are calling for the elimination of entrance exams and fees for foreigners and longterm students. Students have occupied one the school’s lecture halls for almost a week in an effort to draw attention to the funding issues.
The calls of the students involved in these protests have been directed at the national political leaders of Austria, notably the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Sigrid Maurer, Chairman of the Austrian Union of Students, has stated that these leaders must “take the education agenda into their hands.”
The student organizations are also calling for the end to alleged sex discriminations in certain university policies. Currently females and foreign students are barred from certain university facilities.
This is not the first time that the Bologna Process educational reforms been met with student opposition. In September students in Barcelona clashed with police over the implication these reforms.
For more information, please see:
XINHAUANET – Austrian students take to streets to demand more rights – 30 October 2009
PRESSTV – Austrian students urge education reform – 30 October 2009
EURONEWS – Austria’a students demand reforms – 29 October 2009
ASSOCIATED PRESS – Austrian students protest poor conditions, reforms – 26 October 2009