University of Warsaw Occupied

police-ulu

By NCAFC National Committee member Ana Oppenheim

Since Tuesday June 5, students and staff at the University of Warsaw have been protesting against a new law changing the governance structures of Poland’s universities. They have occupied a part of the main campus where the Rector’s offices are located and dropped a banner off the balcony saying “we demand democratic universities.”

The occupation started as a response to the so-called “Gowin’s Act,” named after the conservative Minister of Science and Higher Education. The law sets out to expand the powers of the Rector and establish a new university governing body which includes members external to the university (similar to the UK’s boards of governors). Critics say that the changes will take power away from the community of students and workers and centralise it in the hands of unaccountable management, and that the new board could increase the influence of government ministers and business over academia. Furthermore, the protestors fear that planned changes to higher education funding and expansion of audit culture will privilege big universities in major cities (in order to boost their international league table positions) over smaller and already struggling institutions.

The 11 demands published by the Academic Protest Committee, as the campaigners call themselves, include democratic elections of Rectors and academic community representatives on all levels of management, transparency of university finances and administrative decisions, protection from government intervention into research, investment in housing and scholarships to reduce barriers to access, an increase in funding for education and science to at least 2% of GDP (currently at under 0.5%, among the lowest in Europe, although the government has promised a significant increase) and strengthening the rights of campus workers.

Alongside the occupation, which is said to be the first one taking place at the University of Warsaw in 30 years, the committee has organised a number of teach-outs led by prominent opponents of the Law and Justice government. Protests have also been organised on campuses in Lodz and Bialystok. The campaign has been endorsed by a growing number of organisations, including university departments, academic societies, trade union branches in Warsaw and beyond and the leftwing party Razem (although not by UW’s students’ union.) “Academia is our common good which we will defend as long as it is necessary” reads the occupiers’ manifesto.

Follow the Academic Protest Committee here and tweet solidarity at #Ustawa20 and #NaukaNiepodlegla (which stands for “Independent Science”.)

Colombian Student Strike to save Public Higher Education Forces Government Retreat, for Now

One month ago university students in Colombia launched a mass, indefinite national strike to stop the proposed reform of Law 30. This ‘reform’ would have deepened the role of private finance and given bankers effective control over educational decisions at nominally public sector universities.

The student movement has returned with a force not seen since the 1970s. The strike culminated in mass protests involving some 550,000 students last Thursday 10 November. On Friday the Colombian government backed down and withdrew the proposed law, for now. This is a momentous victory for students and staff working together, and a huge step forward in the global struggle against privatisation and austerity.

The Colombian Solidarity Campaign held a picket of the LSE when President Santos spoke at lunchtime on Tuesday 22 November.

http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/events/26-upcoming-events/558-new-driver-but-same-direction-heading-for-a-train-crash

RESOURCES IN ENGLISH

The Chile contagion has spread. Secondary school students interviewed on Telesur:

Mobilization for a better education continues in Colombia

www.youtube.com

Today, colombian students are protesting against the reform of education proposed by the government …

Press reports in English:

Student Protesters Demand Quality – and Equality
By Helda Martínez http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=105811

Students to protest despite offer to withdraw education reform bill

http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/20339-students-to-protest-despite-santos-offer.html

Colombian students clog capital to protest education reforms

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/10/2496558/colombian-students-clog-capital.html

Colombian students to lift strike, but under conditions

http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/20414-colombian-students-to-lift-strike-but-under-conditions.html

EXCELLENT FILM IN SPANISH

Video del documental de Hollman Morris (Contravia) sobre la reforma a la Ley 30.

CONTRAVÍA- ¿Por qué marcharon los estudiantes?

CLIPS

TV propaganda war

Reforma a la ley 30 de educación. Según Pierre Bourdieu

Las bellezas de la marcha estudiantil del 7 de Abril

Disturbios Universidad Distrital RCN.wmv

Repression

ESMAD celebran golpeando estudiantes

Represión a toda marcha 2 – 1 de Mayo 2011

lo que no sale en noticias de los disturbios de la UD

NB ESMAD are the anti-mutiny police.

Students are fighting to keep police off the university campus

BRUTALIDAD ESMAD UNIVERSIDAD DISTRITAL ( macarena )

TROPEL UNIVERSIDAD DISTRITAL, 12 DE MAYO 2011

Courtesy of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign

Solidarity from students in Bulgaria

A letter of support for British students fighting government policy to increase tuition fees has been issued by Bulgarian student group Studenski Glas.

The letter was posted through the International Students’ Movement, a global network of students fighting for free and emancipatory education.

It reads as follows:

Dear friends,

We have been following the current situation in the UK with great interest
and we sincerely admire your unity and purposefulness in the fight against
tuition fee raises and the privatization of education. We would like to
express our support for this endeavor. Your unfaltering and resolute actions
against government policies in the field of education inspire us to continue
our own fight with even more determined steps.

We are facing issues similar to your own. Currently serious cut-backs in
education system finance, enforcements of private interests and criminal
violation of university autonomy have been undertaken. Many institutions of
higher education in Bulgaria have been forced to shut down for the winter
months due to a lack of finance. Gradually the student body here began
displaying our discontentment – we have organized a few protests against the
government’s lunacy, but as yet without significant results. In January we
plan to renew the protests and we feel ready to take more radical action in
our efforts to achieve our common goal.

We, the students of Bulgaria, would like to declare our solidarity with you
and your struggle. We would be happy to stay in contact with you in the
future.

In solidarity,

Students’ Organization
Studentski Glas,
Bulgaria

www.studentskiglas.org

Скъпи приятели,

Следим с голям интерес ситуацията във Великобритания в момента и се
възхищаваме на вашата единност и целеустременост в борбата ви срещу
увеличаването на таксите за обучение и приватизацията на образованието.
Искаме да изкажем нашата подкрепа в това начинание. Непоколебимите ви и
решителни действия срещу правителствената политика в сферата на
образованието ни окуражава да продължим нашата собствена борба с още
по-решителни стъпки.

Ние сме изправени пред подобни на вашите проблеми. В момента в България тече
процес на тежки орязвания на финансите в образователната система, налагане
на частните интереси и престъпно погазване на университетската автономия.
Много български висши училища са принудени да затворят врати за зимните
месаеци поради липса на финансови средства. Постепенно и тук започна да се
надига студентското недоволство - организирахме няколко протеста срещу
правителствените безумия, но засега без особени резултати. През януари месец
ще възобновим протестните действия като сме готови на по-радикални мерки за
постигане на общата ни цел.

Ние, българските студенти, искаме да заявим солидарността си с вас и вашата
борба! Вашата непримиримост и самоотверженост могат да ни служат само за
пример.  Ще се радваме да осъществим трайни контакти занапред.

Студентска организация „Студентски глас”, България

www.studentskiglas.org

NCAFC receives the letter gratefully and reciprocates its message of international solidarity. Victory to Bulgaria’s students!