Students across Europe are taking to the streets; earlier this month British students surprised the authorities and the police alike with violent demonstrations against increases in university fees.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to triple university fees from around £3,300 a year to around £9,000 – that’s nearly 11,000 euros! Demonstrators also wanted to send a message to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg – whose election manifesto included a freeze on student fees.
Italian students also took to the streets in November, protesting against university reforms which are to include amalgamating smaller universities, introducing external supervision and cutting budgets.
Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi aims to cut the education budget by around 9 billion euros a year, and cut 130,000 jobs by 2013. Even primary schools will be affected. Teaching hours have been slashed from 32 to 24 hours a week. Anger and worry is obviously exacerbated by the economic crisis and the resulting austerity measures being put in place across Europe.
In Portugal these peaceful scenes were in stark contrast to an angry student demonstration in Lisbon demanding more funding for universities and better social security for students.
Fees are set to rise in Ireland too, and last week students joined rallies against the government’s announced austerity measures. In Serbia, students are on hunger strike in protest against university fees. And in France last October students joined demonstrations against increasing retirement ages. All of which shows just how worried Europe’s young people are about the future.