Tag Archives: Cuts

Protests in Bosnia: International Fast News


There’s been talks, debates and protests across the world this week. From Taiwan and China’s historic talks to a question of parody in LA, Pandeia has it covered in The Bottom Line – International Edition.

The first government-to-government talks between China and Taiwan were held this week, 65 years after a brutal civil war which caused the death of between 2 and 3 million people. These talks were seen as a symbolic yet undoubtedly historically significant occurrence.  Wang Yu-chi, who oversees Taiwan’s China policy declared:

“That we can sit here today, formally getting together, formally holding meetings, together exploring issues that people on both sides of the strait care about – this represents a new chapter for cross-strait relations, and is a day worth recording,”

Taiwan and China have been separated when — following the loss of the civil war to Mao Zedong — two millions supporters of the Nationalist party fled to the island of Taiwan. Over the preceding decades Taiwan has found itself become more and more politically isolated as following its ousting from the UN, fewer and fewer countries officially recognise it.

However all is not lost for the Taiwanese as its military is supplied by the United States and it has consequently enjoyed a long economic boom even in the face of the ‘Global Recession’.

Bosnian Turmoil
Murmurs of a Bosnian Spring have taken shape following mass protests and huge demonstrations across the country. In three of the main cities, disorder has broken out following continued turmoil over the nation’s economic future.

As many as 200 people were injured in protests that took place in about 20 towns and cities. Government buildings were set on fire in three of the largest centres – Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica.

The Balkan state has never truly recovered from the conflict that defined the region some 20 years previous. Its infant years as an independent state have been blighted by huge political infighting between the three main ethnic groups — the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) Croats and the Serbs. Its these divisions which have lead many in the country to lose faith in the political classes, blaming them for the stagnation of the economy and the mass unemployment that taints the social structures.


The government response to the protests has been lukewarm at best with prime minister, Nermin Niksic, arguing that there needs to be a differential made between workers who were legitimately protesting against economic conditions and “hooligans who used this situation to create chaos”. The state has already announced that any action that damages public property would be heavily prosecuted.

Just another coffee shop?
In lighter news, theres been a surprising new addition to the row of coffee shops in LA, its Starbucks but not as we know it.


The store who’s interior, exterior and coffee selection is an exact replica of Starbucks save for the ‘dumb’ prefix, was all the work of American Comedian Nathan Fielder who told the world in a press conference this week:

“Many of you probably know me as a comedian. But this is no joke. This is a real business I plan to get rich from. But I need your support.”


Unfortunately Starbucks failed to see the funny side and they, with the help of the Los Angeles Health and Food Agency shut the shop down within 6 days of it opening. It remains to be seen if Fielder will go ahead with his plans to open another shop in downtown Brooklyn.



The European Conundrum


As the EU and its member states face another year of uncertainty and conflict, Myrto Iztaigov takes stock of Greece’s recent history to pose the question what does it really mean to be “European”?

With the continuing imposition of Western Europe’s mandated austerity, Greece enters another period of uncertainty and perhaps a re-evaluation of what it really means to be European. “Is Greece really European?” seems to be an increasingly frequent question within a western media who often portray Greeks as lazy, corrupt and distrustful of all kinds of institutions. Features that are deeply carved into their DNA, they say; products of the country’s wrong policies over the years.

But let’s not forget that Europe’s bad boy has had a vastly different trajectory from most Western European nations. Greece may be the ‘heart of European Civilization’, but for more than four centuries it was a child of Ottoman despotism. For the next 150 years, the country was marked by constant foreign intervention and occupation, waves of immigration and a civil war. In the meantime history moved north into colder climates and the Industrial Revolution created powerful colonial empires and wealthy states in the U.S. and Western Europe. Greece was poor, agricultural and largely shaped by the trends of the Near East and the Balkans. Its ‘schism’ with Europe’s dominant countries was still obvious when the country joined the E.U. in 1981, a decision based on the need for a wider market and a romantic vision of the continent stretching from Iberia to the eastern Mediterranean. “Europe without Greece would be like a child without a birth certificate” had said former French President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing (back in 2000), who had relentlessly supported the country’s integration.

Standing between the ancient ideals and reality, Greece chose to follow the western paradigm. “We belong to the West”, the prime minister, K. Karamanlis  had famously proclaimed  following the country’s integration in the European Union. Yet, his words seemed more like a challenge to achieve rather than a statement of the obvious. By de-emphasizing the country’s cultural and religious particularities, Karamanlis hoped to reassure, even announce, the country’s ability to participate actively and become part of the modern western world.

But Greece wasn’t mature enough to cross to ‘the other side’. As taught by centuries of Ottoman rule, Greeks still identified the authorities with oppression, brutality, bribery and corruption. A perception later reinforced by the modern state’s inefficiency. According to D. Danikas, a journalist on protothema.gr, the gap between Greece and Western Europe started as soon as the Greek Orthodox Church split ten centuries ago from Roman Catholicism and is still there. “The state, for us, is the worse thief. Thus, the only thing we can do is steal from it as well. On the contrary, Western Europeans view the state as a privileged, ideal area that provides infrastructure and social benefits”, he writes.

Twelve years after his famous dictum, in a Spiegel interview, Giscard d’Estaing acknowledged that the country’s integration was, indeed, premature. “To be perfectly frank, it was a mistake to accept Greece. Greece simply wasn’t ready. Greece is basically an Oriental country”. A rather discrete remark compared to the journalist Z. Hatzifotiou’s comment to the Associated Press, in 1979, after the country joined the EEC: “What? Greeks European? Never! Greeks have made tremendous material progress in the last years to push their way into Europe. But they will never be genuine Europeans unless they correct their Oriental manners”.

So where do Greeks stand? In a world dominated by productivity, balanced books and the protestant ethic, questioning Greece’s ‘Europeanness’ is not incidental (especially when the notion of being a ‘good European’ is dominated by the Northern European definition). But it is still something to ponder: what does it really mean to be European? Is it enough to have a common currency, a single market or EU identity cards? Or maybe it’s just a question of ideological belief…but what if your children don’t share your values and ideals, are they not ‘European’ anymore?

We can’t measure or calculate someone’s ‘Europeanness’. As Maria Hnaraki, director of Greek Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, told IB Times: “Greece is at the borders of the so-called East and West. That is exactly where its uniqueness lies. It has served – and still does so- as a crossroads amongst three continents and, historically, people of various socio-cultural backgrounds. Thus, Greek identity is a mosaic, an amalgam of all those elements”. Europe is a beautiful mosaic – trying to categorize each piece individually would make it fall apart.

Students of Europe: Has winter passed?

*UPDATE* With student protests continuing to flare up some 5 months on, Pandeia revisits its Special Report into the Student Protest movement as a result of education cuts.

Europe is in crisis – a fact that cannot have escaped anyone’s attention. The financial problems of the past years have forced governments to adopt austerity measures in many different areas. Major cut-backs have been made on education budgets, which has lead to student protests all over Europe.

University life in Athens has frozen. Teaching, research and clinical work have come to a standstill in two of Greece’s biggest universities as administrative staff strike against severe cuts made to the higher education budget. Most of the facilities have been occupied by the students as they express their solidarity, while the senate of the University of Athens (UoA) resigned last week. The consequences of this radical 3 month long action at  UoA alone  affect 65.682 students, 1.974 professors, 40 departments, 8 libraries, 66 clinics, 174 laboratories and 18 museums.

The situation in Greece is exceptional, but not surprising when examining the rest of Europe. Studying is, in terms of finance, becoming a more risky business in the UK as well. The UK coalition government has been steadily moving toward marketisation of higher education over the past few years.

The annual tuition fee was raised to £9000 in 2010, and calls are being made to raise fees even further to £16,000. The marketisation of higher education leads to a prioritisation of budget resources to the more profitable academic subjects. Business, technology and medicine are prioritised while Humanities and Arts subjects have been neglected. Profitability rather than educational excellence dominates UK governmental policy.

The raising of tuition fees in Spain and Ireland has had similar effects. According to the Spanish student Union, the recent reforms in Spain promote inequality of access to education favoring the upper class.

University shutdown

The situation in Greece is  precarious. Because of the shut-down, Greek graduate students cannot obtain the required certificates in order to study abroad, and are prevented from going on already arranged and paid exchange programs. The University of Athens students are forced to put their studies on pause as long as the conflict continues.

Despite this, the situation is not as severe in all European countries. In the Netherlands and Denmark students still receive a monthly scholarship. However the financial crisis has led to deterioration in student conditions.  In Denmark students are protesting and signing petitions against a reform that was passed before this summer. The reform, named “The Study Process Reform”, has been dubbed by Danish students as a clever euphemism for a measure that significantly impairs their conditions. The overall aim is to rush students through their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as quickly as possible. The Universities are obligated to take measures that will make students finish their degree on average 4.3 months faster.

Similar changes are seen in Dutch education policy. Lengthy studying is discouraged, which disables students to prolong their studies for internships, or enroll in additional Masters degrees.  There have been political proposals to create a ‘lending system’ instead of the free monthly scholarships. If this lending system is implemented, researchers estimate 7500 students will choose not to continue their studies after secondary school.

On the other side of the North Sea, grants have been completely cut for Master’s students. According to Irish graduate student David Fleming (28) this forces many young people to look for opportunities abroad:

“I am one of them. Unless things change, less and less people will be able to afford to attend university and will either be stuck on unemployment benefits or will choose to leave the country.”

Students to court

David is one among many students who choose to move to another country for their studies. According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the number of students leaving home to pursue tertiary education programmes abroad has risen sharply in recent years. In 2010, the number of internationally mobile tertiary students grew from 2 million in 2000 until to  3.6 million today.

This trend is felt first hand in Austria. Austrian universities do not have entrance limits depending on average grades. Unrestricted access to higher education has made Austria a favoured destination for educational migration, mostly by students from Germany who do not have a sufficient grade point average for German universities. In Austrian media, this development is sometimes referred to as “Deutschenschwemme”, meaning “German flood”.

According to Austrian student Johannes Pertra (25) this is a burden on the Austrian economy:

“The problem is not one of racism or xenophobia, but rather that German students tend to go back home to look for jobs, leaving the Austrian state with nothing.”

Meanwhile, the Austrian universities are filled to the brim,  affecting the performance of attending students. Recently an Austrian student successfully sued the Austrian state by arguing that his university did not provide him with conditions that allowed him to get his degree within the minimum time. He argued that overcrowded courses and the fight to sit exams forced him to prolong his studies.

The student won the case, which might create problems for the Austrian state. “If other students start suing the state for the exact same reasons and they all lawfully get money from the state, it will lead to chaos”, Johannes says.

Even countries with considerably good student conditions are suffering in these wintry days of educational reforms.  The question is how favoured countries will cope with the flood of student migration. The situation in Austria is an example of how educational systems may suffer. As long as the conditions for students are not improving, students are likely to look for lower cost and better quality abroad putting countries with relatively better conditions under pressure.

The austerity measures haven’t just been contained to the continent. The UK’s education system has felt the force of the country’s economic downturn, and its almost unanimously the students who are paying for it. The BBC recently reported that outstanding student loan debt will rise to £200 billion in the next 30 years and that around fifty percent of students are ‘not expected’ to repay the loan, a turn of events that mimic those across the Atlantic. With the current system being deemed ‘unsustainable’, there is a large measure of uncertainty over the future of the UK’s higher education system. This uncertainly has only been compounded by the recent selling off of £900 million worth of student debt by the Conservative government for the ‘bargain’ price of £160 million. The reality is, of a system  developing whereby nobody gains and everybody loses.

Winter hasn’t left

In Kosovo in February, students clashed with police during protests against the University of Pristina. The Head of the University had been found to have falsified research in order to gain credentials crucially needed for extra-funding. The protests raged in the streets for a number of days, as students claimed the budget cuts had left the university in a criminal state.


While in Croatia, the legacy of the Autumn of 2009 is still being felt, where for 10 days the universities were taken over and ran by the students. In 2014, students in Zagreb held a rally protesting against further cuts that would mean some courses would have to close.

As the nights get lighter and the days longer, it seems winter has passed. However for Europe’s education system, the question is, when will it see the effects?

By Nele Goutier and Anja Christoffersen

Additional Reporting by Jamie Timson

Higgs and Englert back Spanish concerns about austerity measures

The parents of the Higgs Boson, Peter Higgs and François Englert, winners of the Physics Nobel Prize this year believe that the cuts in research in Spain will lead the country to lose its place at the forefront of science and a more intolerant society.

During the last three years, the Spanish government budget devoted to research and development has been reduced by 37%; and 25% of that cut was made during 2012.  The voices of the Nobel Prize-winning physicists are not the first, but perhaps are the ones with most international recognition, however the concern is shared by scientists, teachers, students and the wider society. This was shown by the general education strike that took place in Spain the last 24th of September to protest against the cuts in this sector that have resulted in the loss of quality and efficiency in education and investigation.

The Higgs Boson parents were awarded last month with one of the largest awards in Spain, the Prince of Asturias Prize in science, and they used their visit to Spain for the award ceremony to speak out about the risks of the cuts that the country is making in R & D. Higgs stated during the press conference prior to the awards that research cuts will jeopardize the progress made in the country over the last 30 years to catch up with the rest of Europe in the scientific field, and he remarked that it would be a shame for Spain to fall behind again.

Meanwhile, his colleague Englert emphasized the importance of science and its dissemination through education; two fields that have suffered deep cuts in recent years in Spain. The physicist remarked the role of education and science had been a barrier against intolerance,  giving people the ability to achieve rationality, and pushing away old irrational and intolerant thoughts that were actually harmful for Spain and Europe in the past. Achievements he argued may be threatened by a drop in the quality of education in the country.

The Nobel Prize winners’ concerns shows that the international scientific community, Spanish students, academics and society, all share a common concern about the effects that the budget cuts might cause in the short and long term future of the country. Sharing the common idea that education and research are the building blocks towards the end of the economic crisis and increased development of the country, the calls for attention to the government asking for a more rational austerity system are numerous.

Thanks to the Higgs Boson’s international recognition, amid the large number of news stories that the media shows daily about the cuts that are affecting many different sectors in Spain, the parents of the Higgs Boson have made local, national and international media as: La Nueva España, El Diario or La Jornada, lay their eyes on the importance of R & D and education. They have been successful in counteracting the lack of attention that Spanish scientists and academics have received in the past when warning the country about the high risks of reducing the budgets in these fields.

Edited and Translated by Aida Peláez

Remember Remember, the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Revolution?


Thousands of protestors took to the streets of London as part of a number of demonstrations taking place across the globe on the 5th of November. On the night, Pandeia caught up with those involved from the grassroots to the organisers of the action where a common theme of the need for change became apparent.

Two protests coincided last night to bring thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of central London in a stand against austerity.

An official protest on Westminster Bridge by the People’s Assembly group attracted dozens of supporters who lit a bonfire symbolising their opposition to the energy companies. Several well-known speakers also addressed the crowd including MP Jeremy Corbyn and political commentator Owen Jones, who likened zero-hour contracts to the Victorian age in his speech.

Speaking to Pandeia after he had taken the megaphone, Owen Jones said of the action: “it’s becoming a real grass-roots movement, ever since the launch of the People’s Assembly on the 22nd of June this year, we’ve been trying to organise more and more of these types of things.” The political commentator and founding member of the People’s Assembly went on to call for more engagement in civil disobedience to protest against austerity cuts.

Jones also encouraged greater cooperation between student movements across Europe. “It has to be a European movement, because this is a European offensive, what’s going on in Greece and Spain is worse than here, what we need to do is link all those movements up. After all, to coin a phrase, we’re all in this together.”

In a separate development, the ‘Million Mask March’, an unofficial protest, also gathered near Westminster. The march was organised in association with the online hacktivist collective known as Anonymous and was heavily policed as it moved from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square. Some protesters let off fireworks while several onlookers criticised the demonstration for blocking a public highway. One police officer confirmed to Pandeia that the event was unplanned and suggested that many of the protesters had joined the proceedings through ulterior motives.

While it is difficult to get an exact estimate of the number of people involved in the protests in London, the number was certainly in the thousands and was estimated by protestors themselves as well over the 5,000 mark and while the march was peaceful in the main, there were a number of outbreaks of violence when protestors were forced to move by the police. The hostility towards police and the establishment was clear, with many protestors stopping to shout through the fences lined with police surrounding the Houses of Parliament .

Comedian Russell Brand, fresh from his stint as guest editor of the New Statesman, was also in attendance. There have been many calls on him following his ‘Russell-ution’ interview on the BBC to follow his words with action, so his attendance at the protest was obviously refreshing for some.

Speaking to Pandeia one activist, who named himself as Alex, explained that while these demonstrations and protests are worthwhile, the movement as a whole was too fragmented and needed to consolidate its principles across a broader spectrum to lead to change. However, Alex also said that there was still a genuine belief that society is unequal and that these organisations will foster a spirit that will lead to change.




  • Should students do more to cooperate across Europe?
  • Should groups organise unofficial protests?
  • Do groups need to consolidate more to be able to fight their cause?
  • Is civil disobedience the way forward?

Greg Bianchi and Jamie Timson

Welcome to Pandeia

Welcome to Pandeia. Hopefully, you’re reading this editorial on our brand new website, having just – or preparing to – read the excellent content we have all so painstakingly collated, translated, analysed, written, edited, uploaded and double (triple) checked in the last two weeks. Either that, or you have a thing for the editorials of plucky new-starts. That’s okay too.

This website is more than just the product of the hard work, inspiration and journalistic ability of 15 slightly sleep deprived students. This launch marks the beginning of a project which plans to encompass the best of student journalism from all over Europe and beyond. We are not a traditional news site: though we have our own content (such as this week’s excellent comment piece from Egyptian student Shorouk El Hariry), our parameters are much wider than that. We believe that student journalism is brilliant, diverse and undervalued. Until today, even the most inspired pieces of the continent were restricted to a single campus or, at best, one region. Student media has for too long been fragmented – it is time for the talented and unpaid journalists of tomorrow to gain recognition on a wider level.

The Pandeia Network hopes to act as a platform for the best of this journalism. Our current contributors have skillfully researched the most interesting and relevant articles from their own regions before collating these, adding context or analysis and translating them into English to reach a wider audience. Though we had anticipated a humble launch, we received an overwhelming quality of content from eight different countries covering a broad spectrum of student media sources and topics.

Our content includes an important look at the link between disability and graduate unemployment in Sweden; an investigation into the portrayal of the amended immigration law in Italian student media, following the sinking of a ship holding 500 immigrants off the coast of Lampedusa; the first hand experience of a Danish trainee doctor working in war torn Syria;reflections on the EU by a dutch academic in a growing discontentment with the ‘superstate’; and a look at the controversial ‘sinterklaas’ holiday in the Netherlands and the racist implications of ‘Black Pete’.

Our inaugural theme for this edition is ‘Revolution’. This includes first hand coverage of thousands of UK protesters who last night marched against Austerity, following on from a ‘die-in’ demonstration in Bristol against BAE systems and the ‘intimidating’ staff strike held in Warwick this week. In spain, the parents of the Higgs Boson stand united with other critics against cuts in research while art students blockade themselves into faculty buildings in response to the new education laws. Finally, our ‘international perspectives’ section launches with a thought provoking piece from Egypt on Russell’s ‘revolution’ and what the word means in a country striving for ‘bread and social justice’.

It seems to us, that the word ‘revolution’ has become the mot du jour – we’re a european website, don’t you know – as more and more protests take place across Europe. However, we didn’t just want to write an open letter to anyone and everyone, as seems to be way most are going about it. We tried to engage with how the students across the continent felt about the issue and whether ‘revolution’ is as loaded a term as it first appeared. Its clear, as I hope you can see from our content, that many young people are not happy with how things are at the moment. Its also clear, that those involved in the protests are as fragmented and disconnected as the student media in Europe.

Its here that we hope Pandeia can make a difference, by providing a network for all of those young people and encouraging cross-cultural communication and development. Because, as Owen Jones told Pandeia, “After all, we’re all in this together.”

Rachel Barr, Greg Bianchi, Sean Gibson and Jamie Timson


Stockholm’s rising problem with graduate employment

The percentage of job seekers who are classified as disabled has increased to over 25 percent. Support is available both before and after graduation – but the question is whether it is enough as the demands of the job market increase.

Social competence, efficiency, and flexibility. Sounds like the typical CV clichés? These are some of the features almost all employers require today. Meanwhile, research show that the number of job seekers classified as disabled has increased a lot in recent years. Is there a connection here? What does it take to be considered employable?

‘The job market has changed and is demanding more from individuals than ever before. There are fewer low-skilled jobs and it is not always enough with relevant training’, says Ida Seing, a doctoral student at the RAR, the National Centre for Vocational Rehabilitation at Linköping University.

Often employers regard social competences just as important as the relevance of the degree of the job seeker. As a result a particular type of person is hired, making the recruitment very one-sided.

To avoid this tendency, the employers need to stop requesting these specific characteristics in the recruitment process, says Håkan Regner from the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations. Instead Håkan Regner encourages the employers to think more broadly when hiring new people, making the job market fairer to all types of people.


Originally written by Linnéa Sundberg & Mimmi Nilsson

Translated and Edited by Sofie Ejdrup Larsen