Tag Archives: Education

Middle Eastern violence in education – A German perspective

Haifa University

The German media is not overloaded with news, information and facts concerning violent attacks on educational institutions in the Middle East. The most recent articles in German newspapers are from 2013 and deal mainly with the Syrian crisis. Within the topic of Syria the media actually reports on attacks on universities.

The online newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine said in one of their reports: “Dead people after attack at university of Damascus”. This aims to inform that the Syrian conflict reached the capital Damascus long ago. After pointing out the number of dead students, 15 in total, the article blames the Arab League, which supposedly encourages any possible confrontation within the country. Two thirds of the article reports on international relations between Syria and countries such as Russia, which criticised the actions of the Arab League, and Turkey that deports refugees after riots. Conclusively the actual topic referring to the attack on Damascus’ university is embedded in the general Syrian crisis and, perhaps, would not have been reported without a powerful event such as the on-going crisis and the revolution.

Further research about the attacks on educational institutions in the Middle East lead away from articles to websites such as Human Rights Watch. The announcements on this website in November 2013 focus on stopping the military use of schools in conflict areas. The announcement by the non-governmental organisation published a video on this topic in six different languages. The video shows in what way children are seriously affected by the military use of their schools. The message on the homepage elaborates that the occupants turn the schools into prisons, training camps and depots for weapons. The video and announcement was published on the International Day of Children Rights.

A small poll among some German students who spent considerable time in one or more Middle Eastern countries say that the topic in Germany is under-represented. One of them is Alex, a German student in political science, who has been to the Middle East three times already. Two times in Israel for a student exchange in 2007 and 2008, the third time Alex stayed for half a year to study in Israel’s city Haifa in 2012/2013. During his third stay he also visited parts of Egypt and Jordan. Friends told him about the rocket attacks in 2006. “The university in Haifa lies on a 470 metre high hill and on not cloudy days you can actually see the Lebanon. As I was told you could recognise the rockets very early when you had been round the university round this time”, Alex says. These rockets did not reach the university but in the past it has been evacuated and the lecture program has been stopped. While the situation is almost ‘normal’ for the Israeli students most of the foreign students are face a scary situation and many of them return to their home countries. There is no university in Israel where you are safe in terms of rocket attacks.

During Alex’ semester abroad the operation “Pillar of Defence” took place. In November 2012 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a campaign going against terror targets in Gaza. It was claimed the IDF were responding to increased rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The intention was to destroy any terror organisations in the Gaza Strip, the second goal was to defend the Israeli civilians who were mainly living under fire. Alex tells that he and others realised people have been more tense during this time as numerous people thought another invasion of the Gaza strip was imminent. “During this time several Israeli students have been drawn in by the military, which established a circle around the Gaza strip. The people were afraid of attacks and after a bus attack in Tel Aviv the fears proved to be true. For the very first time, Hamas held rockets of a range that were able to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Therefore the universities of these two cities sounded the highest alarm.”

Several people started to demonstrate for the attacks of  Hamas. “Even at my university”, Alex remembers. “It is embarrassing that also German were among the objectors.” Only one day later counter demonstrations took place which were meant to support the civilians of the South and to express solidarity.

Alex says that the Palestinians tend to build and place their rocket positions in Gaza in civil institutions, often in educational institutions such as schools. By these actions they intend to protect themselves from attacks by the Israeli military. “Mostly the people are safe inside schools or universities as the IDF is keen to avoid civilian victims.”

However, the topic only attracts a small amount of attention. In Alex’s opinion the focus is more on the “military-strategic events than the conflict itself and how the population deals with the attacks”.

The above mentioned articles in German media are not the sole ones but they give an insight to the attitude within the media. The reports, news and information concerning attacks aimed at educational institutions in the Middle East remain under-reported and are often only covered as part of a wider crisis.

By Maria Wokurka

Picture credit: Michael Privorotsky

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Greenlandic students in Denmark: A long way from home

IMG_4580“We need everyone to ensure our country’s development towards becoming an independent nation, and therefore we must educate as many people as possible as well as possible – even our children and young people with special needs.”

– Greenlandic education strategy, April 2014

Each year, hundreds of Greenlandic students leave their hometowns, travelling thousands of kilometers from this sparsely populated Arctic nation to universities and colleges across Denmark.

These students are a small but crucial piece of Greenland’s education system painted in the government’s 2014 education strategy, a bi-annual document that will be officially released in April. It depicts an education system that is rapidly expanding but where students nonetheless continue to fall through the cracks.

Qaqortoq, the fourth biggest town in Greenland.

Officially, Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark – they have control over some areas of government, and aim to eventually take control over others. Five years ago the Act of Greenlandic Self-Government was passed by Greenland’s home rule government. The strategy emphasizes the importance of education in achieving full independence from Denmark. “Most of us were told when we were in high school we had to go out and experience the world, study and come back home to work for our country,” says Paarnaq Rosing Jakobsen from Nuuk, who now studies in the psychology bachelor’s program at Aarhus University. There was another crucial factor in her decision about studying abroad – the field is not taught in Greenland.

“Most of us were told when we were in high school we had to go out and experience the world, study and come back home to work for our country”

With limits on what programs and degrees are available in Greenland, Denmark’s higher education system remains a crucial link in the country’s education system. In 2012, 1,960 students from Greenland were studying in Denmark above the primary school level, including 18 students who were doing their PhDs. That same year, just over a third of students who were completing a bachelor’s degree were doing so outside of Greenland (although not necessarily in Denmark), and by the master’s level the number had increased to just over 80%. Since 2005, when the first education strategy was released, enrollment in education in Greenland has increased across all levels.  The number of students enrolling in some form of higher education has increased by 50%, and the completion rate has risen by 35%, according to the Greenlandic government.

But the proportion of students who don’t enroll in education, or do not finish their degree, remains extremely high. For teenagers aged 15 to 18, sixty-one percent are not enrolled in any form of education. And for those who do enroll in a bachelor’s degree, more than half do not graduate. “It’s a really sad picture, and something has to be done,” says Merete Watt Boolsen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen who has produced several research reports on education for the University of Greenland.

The challenge lies in the difficulties of transition for many students, she says – not only a move from Greenland to Denmark, but also from their hometowns to Nuuk, and into independent student life. For many students, “going to Denmark is just as different, or just as dangerous, as going to the capital of Greenland, Nuuk,” she says. While academic life can be difficult, she says she has also seen many students struggle with the daily challenges of finding an apartment, organizing their finances, and managing the loneliness and isolation of living far from home, experiences that previous generations have not had. “They have families where they don’t know what it means to tell your child to do their homework, because they’ve never done it themselves,” she says. “The gap is huge.”

“They have a very strict schedule and that is something we are not used to in Greenland; we plan more from day to day” says Paarnaq Rosing Jakobsen in her interview. - To see her full interview with Jakobsen discussing the adjustment to life in Denmark click here.

“They have a very strict schedule and that is something we are not used to in Greenland; we plan more from day to day” says Paarnaq Rosing Jakobsen. To see her full interview click here.

For Jakobsen, adapting to a different way of thinking about society formed the biggest adjustment, a difference that made it difficult to relate to many Danes. “Since I moved here I felt a distinction between collective and individualistic cultural values. I found out I had a mindset that was a very collectivistic way of thinking. I was always dependent on other people and thought of others instead of thinking of myself first,” she says.  She struggled to adapt to the scheduling and business of the university life.

Others say that the negative stereotypes about Greenland and the lack of knowledge about the country

can be discouraging and isolating. “People assume we don’t know so much, “you are a Greenlander, you don’t know this…you don’t understand this” is said to me,” says Aviaja Sørensen, a 24-year-old from Nuuk who is studying at Aarhus’ Købmandsskole. “Some actually don’t know we have internet there. And we are judged for our food because they say it stinks, and for always being drunk.”

 

Aviaja Sørensen _Fotor

“I think to move away and live in Denmark is the coolest thing you can do today. To break the pattern, we don’t want to be imprisoned in Greenland” says Aviaja Sørensen, see full interview here.

Moving far from home can also be a great opportunity – a chance to experience the freedom and excitement of re-defining who you are, especially without the gossip living in a small town brings. “Here you can be yourself, you can dress in colorful clothes or wear shorts without people commenting on it,” Sørensen says. But for many students, the experience of moving away to study is an experience that they can’t share with their families. When two thirds of the population doesn’t have a formal education, parents can’t help children with their homework, Boolsen says, and they can’t relate to the changes that student life requires. The move can isolate students from their community. “It also means that if you go into education, it can mean – it may mean – that you are losing your family,” she says. “The culture is changing from a hunting society to an educated society, and it takes longer than they anticipated.”

 

 

 

“If you go into education, it can mean – it may mean – that you are losing your family…the culture is changing from a hunting society to an educated society, and it takes longer than they anticipated.”

For Avalak, an association for Greenlandic students in Denmark, the answer to this experiential gap comes in the form of other students. The association runs an “Inspire by Example” group inspired by the way children traditionally learned to hunt – by watching – says Avalak’s president, Hans Peder Maassanguaq Cortzen Kirkegaard in his interview. The program uses current Greenlandic students as inpsiration for others who want to study. “Many of the bigger challenges are social issues, but they are being addressed, so the unaddressed issue is to make the families and kids understand that education is a way to change their life for the better, and that is not exclusive to the “elite” or the special few that can,” he says. On a structural level, the Greenlandic students need more counseling and support to help them with the transitions and guide them, he says.

Arina Kleist

“Only one in three of the population are skilled professionals…we have a long way to independence” says Arina Kleist who is educated in Informatics and communication studies. See full interview with Arina here.

Boolsen also says helping students, one on one, through the process is the key way to motivate them to pursue their education. “And that takes time, and that is expensive. But I think it has to be done, because this is where the motivation comes from.” The most recent strategy report, she says, is not sufficient in addressing the challenges of transition. “I think that strategy plan is minimizing the expectations that were introduced in the 2005 strategy plan.” In the mean time, discussions about oil and mineral extraction continue – but Boolsen says developing education, including universities, is just as important for creating an independent state.

“Education, training people’s brains, is almost becoming the same kind of material as the oil left to Greenland, or the fish in the sea, or the iron in the mountains. It’s something you can sell, it’s something that’s important to cultivate.”

Foreign Student “Ghettos”

Ena Kreso

Norwegian student media are looking into immigration issues within student housing. If international students are not mixed with domestic students in housing offers, it might create problems of isolation. Pandeia’s Tinuke Maria Iyore translates an article from Universitas.

In a student apartment building in Lower Kringsjå, Oslo, nine out of ten residents are international students. Nafiza Ferdowshi, from Bangladesh lives here, but does not plan to stay for long. “I’m going back to Bangladesh when I finish my studies. I really like Norway, but I hardly know any Norwegians,” she says.

Statistics from the Student Association in Oslo (SIO) show that most of the international students live in the older buildings in Lower Kringsjå, where block 24 and 26 have the highest percentage of international students. Here ninety per cent of the residents are foreigners. In Upper Kringsjå the numbers are completely opposite. Nine out of ten are Norwegian students.

Nafiza Ferdowshi and Tanima Ferdous, both from Bangladesh, are mostly content with their lives in Lower Kringsjå, but Ferdowshi does not plan to stay.  She thinks getting to know and communicating with Norwegians has been difficult. “I’m going back to Bangladesh when I finish my studies. I really like Norway, but I hardly know any Norwegians,” she says.

Moving up

In one of the newer buildings in Upper Kringsjå (the area with a high concentration of Norwegian students), we find Sven Sondre Frøshaug in the living room with his roommate Sindre Godager. Frøshaug previously lived in one of the blocks in Lower Kringsjå. “I avoided going into the kitchen as much as possible,” he says. “It was dirty and small. And I found it exhausting to speak English all the time.” In his new student apartment Frøshaug has a private bathroom, and shares living space with three Norwegian friends.

A Problematic Situation

Sveinung Rotevan is a politician for Norwegian political party Venstre. According to him the large number of international students in Lower Kringsjå is problematic. “It is important that the international students are mixed with the Norwegian students to secure language advancement and networking opportunities,” he says and adds that the student organizations should put in an effort to ensure a more mixed environment for students.

Contradictions

Trond Bakke, who is responsible for housing within the student association, says that nothing can be done to ensure a better allocation of the international students, as the allocating process is random. “The situation is a result of the fact that international students are prioritised higher, when allocating the student apartments. Additionally international students are more concerned about price than Norwegian students, and often prefer the blocks with lower rent,” Bakke says.

Missing out

Statistics show that four out of five international students in Norway return home after completing their education.

The director of Erasmus Student Network, Maria Mastrangelopoulou, thinks a reason could be that the international graduates have difficulties finding jobs in Norway, partly because their Norwegian network is non-existent. “It would be great with a career fair targeting international students, as this could help put them in contact with relevant employers,” she says.

Sveinung Rotevatn, thinks that it’s important to keep the international students in Norway afterwards. “We’re missing out on great knowledge and expertise,” he says.

Original Article by Ragnhild Sofie Selstø & Thea Storøy Elnan for universitas.no

Photo: Ena Kreso

The Italian Job: Italy’s Employment Emergency

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The so-called ‘brain drain’ aspect of migration has seen a steady increase in the past years and it is affecting many countries in Europe. Among the nations who currently suffer the most is Italy. Irene Dominioni examines the opinion of Italian student media on this controversial issue.

Brain drain isn’t only a cultural or moral concern, as the student’s newspaper Inchiostro reports. It is a problem that affects the economic interests of Italy, a problem worth 1 billion euros a year. Bringing a student from elementary school to university degree costs $164 million to the Italian system, a sum that packs up and leaves together with the skills of those who migrate. Investment in education and research is one of the few truly effective methods to substantially improve the economic status of a country, and it also enhances political involvement. It still remains an Italian achilles heel when the situation is getting worse day by day combined with mass unemployment.

Italy has been choking on an economic crisis for too long, a crisis from which it does not seem to be able to shake off. The student paper Uninformato reports a rate of youth unemployment of 41.6 per cent, which shows an alarming situation. The so-called NEET (Not in Education or Employment Training) are becoming a dangerous reality, counting more young Italians every year who are increasingly discouraged. They don’t work because they are convinced they won’t find a job no matter what, nor do they study because they see university as an effort that will never be paid in return. Those who should be leading the country out of the crisis are the ones who are most heavily hit by it.

Employment emergency

Among the crises that the country needs to face, youth unemployment should be the priority. The young are paying the consequences of a crisis that they have not provoked and the state needs to start looking after them as the first and most durable source of wealth, when resources are drastically reduced and need wise redistribution. Saving its future, Italy must invest in its youth today. It is a waste to provide its citizens with good education and then force them to leave the country because of lack of job opportunities. Furthermore, letting someone else take benefit from their capacities. This does not mean that studying or work abroad should be stigmatised. They should be encouraged instead. The problem is that nowadays for Italians leaving their home country is often not a free choice, but the only alternative not to weigh too much on one’s family.

The feeling of obligation is one of the elements within the critique made by Il Bo, as the results of a study conducted in 2012 on the Erasmus Generation, which emphasises the entrepreneurial spirit of young Italians. The reality is not so bright. According to the study, 46 per cent of the young Italians surveyed are enthusiastic about working abroad. This number however can be read in a different way – that unemployment is what leads them to leave. Moreover, the study reports that a significant percentage (54 per cent) of this generation expresses a desire to work and live in a place close to home or in Italy.

This suggests that Italians would rather not walk away from their roots: a sign that contradicts the apparent wish of moving to a different country. 7.7 per cent would like to run their own business and 12.8 per cent  aim to be freelancers. It is important to note that freelance positions are the only solution for professionals as lawyers or architects cannot hope to be hired in the public system or elsewhere. In addition, 32 per cent aim to work for a multinational corporation and 18 per cent for a major national firm. These numbers reveal that autonomy in business is not a very attractive option for Italian youth. The unconditional praise of mobility in Europe and Italian entrepreneurial initiative needs to be re-conceived in a way that sticks more to reality, a reality which does not appear pleasant.

Is there a way out of the brain drain and desperate unemployment rates for Italy? To invert the tendency it would be necessary to have more people at work for a shorter time and to reduce (instead of extending) the retirement age, suggests Domenico De Masi on Uninformato. But these are adjustments that are not very likely to happen in such a moment of economic crisis. Effective solutions have not been adopted yet, and the future for young Italians remains more insecure than ever. What will come next still remains to be seen, but, if a change has to start somewhere, it should be right where it is most needed: a deceived youth united under collective awareness and concerted action is the only solution to ensure the attention of the nation is on this problem.

2013 – Britain’s Annus Horribilis?

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At the turn of 2013, no one could have guessed the start of the year would result in such a harsh U-Turn in the UK’s public conscience. No longer was the forced Olympic and Jubilee celebrations enough to numb the public into a state of self-satisfied inertia, 2013 became the year of panic, protests and heavy handed policing. A year on, Pandeia explores how each new month brought more instances of disturbances and unrest in this 2013 Year in Review.

 

January 2013 – Isle of Man tuition fees, Oxford students protest Assange visit.

At the beginning of last year, a decision to introduce tuition fees for students from the Isle of Man was met with considerable protests. Three demonstrations took place in front of the Manx parliament, including an 800 signature strong petition. As reported in IOM Today, the group ‘Say No to Manx Tuition Fees’ helped organize the protest, the efforts ultimately leading to a postponement of the policy. The fees faced by Manx students would be a minimum of £2,500

january isle of man protests

    Via: Prospect Isle of Man https://www.facebook.com/IOMProspect

 

Meanwhile, a group of students from Oxford University opposed a presentation via video-link of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on their campus to give a speech to students.

 

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Julian Assange will be speaking at the Oxford Union on 23rd January. WomCam will be protesting. More details to come; get involved.

— OUSUWomen’sCampaign (@womcam) January 9, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Oxford Student the speech was to be broadcast at the Oxford Union. Wadham SU passed a statement of disapproval with its women’s officer claiming Assange’s address would be “disrespectful to survivors of rape and sexual assault.” The Oxford Union defended the decision and encouraged people to use the question and answer session to put the allegations to Mr Assange. However, Tom Rutland, President of the Oxford University Students’ Union  stood in criticism of the move.

 

As reported in the independent Oxford student paper Cherwell,  up to 70 protesters amassed outside the union during the speech given by Assange. The paper also reported that Assange criticised a film ‘The Fifth Estate’ which he claimed was “a lie upon a lie.”

 

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Oxford Union uploaded #Assange‘s speech only after removing Collateral Murder footage, replacing it with Union’s logo. http://t.co/ED4Cq2T9
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 28, 2013

 

 

It was reported that, despite this, Assange faced a number of probing questions about his designation as a fugitive. Assange is currently within the Ecuadorian embassy and faces extradition to Sweden to face charges for rape.

 

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JA in response to student – I won’t go back to Sweden to face trial because they won’t agree not to extradite me to USA

— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) January 23, 2013

 

 

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Julian Assange finds no allies and tough queries in Oxford University talk http://t.co/SGNmsDJL via @guardian
— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) January 24, 2013

 

 

February 2013 – Sussex students start occupation against privatisation

In February, a group of students at Sussex University began a long-term occupation of a university building to protest the privatisation of services at the university.

 

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Hundreds of protesters camped out in the Bramber House building on the university campus. As reported in The Badger, the campaign attracted national media attention and was supported by a number of high profile names, including commentator Owen Jones.

 

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This protest would continue for some time and later in the year would lead to an escalation in hostilities between students and university authorities.

 

March 2013 – Final trial of students arrested during 2010 protests. Acquittal of Alfie Meadows whose skull was allegedly fractured by a police baton during 2010 protests.

 

Alfie Meadows, a student who required emergency surgery after the 2010 protests against tuition fees was found not guilty of violent disorder last March.

 

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Meadows, who was a student at Middlesex University at the time of the protest, required surgery for a fractured skull after being allegedly bludgeoned by a police baton. Meadows also pledged to continue legal action against the Metropolitan Police which was postponed while he fought the charges.

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Justice for Alfie Meadows and Zak King! More than two years after the student protests of December 2010, two… http://t.co/97Krntyx
— Left Unity (@LeftUnityUK) February 11, 2013

 

 

In the same trial, fellow student Zak King was also found to be innocent of charges levied against him by police.

 

April 2013 – Four people arrested during Sussex student occupation. 

 

As reported in The Badger, four students were arrested in April during an eviction of protesters occupying a university building, after weeks of ongoing protest.

 

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The decision to evict the students came after the occupation started in February and was criticised by some groups.  A protest was organised at Sussex University calling for a continuation of protests and support for those students who were arrested. It also opposed the presence of police at peaceful protest and called for ‘Cops Off Campus’.

 

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May 2013 – Pledge to protest closing of ULU. 

 

The planned closure of the University of London Union was announced in May. This was met with hostility by many students and would be the trigger for protests and arrests later in the year.

 

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@Channel4 PRESS RELEASE: Students pledge to fight #ULU closure http://t.co/kNi3pdGSF3

— ULU (@ULUnion) May 3, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Journal the NUS pledged to support the union and oppose its closure.

 

 

June 2013 – Students occupy Warwick in protest at rise in Vice Chancellors pay. Stop G8 Protests in London.

 

As reported in Warwick-student newspaper The Boar, over 20 students occupied the Senate House on the Warwick campus to oppose privatisation at the university. One of the protesters said that the occupation took inspiration from the occupation at Sussex University earlier in the year. One of the protesters also said they were committed to dialogue but feared that the campus security services would cut off access to toilet facilities and food supplies.

 

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However, again reported in The Boar, the protest ended peacefully on 22 June with many protesters claiming they didn’t want to occupation to drag on and result in legal action.

 

Meanwhile, June also saw anti-G8 protests which included ‘Stop G8 Network’ –  which opposes the G8 and calls for an anti-capitalist agenda who were holding a ‘Carnival against Capitalism’.

 

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Carnival against capitalism! Come on down to Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus starting right now! #stopg8

— StopG8 (@stopG8UK) June 11, 2013

 

 

During the protests there were allegations of police brutality towards protesters and one man arrested on a rooftop was taken to hospital as reported in the Huffington Post

 

Police said that there had been incidents of criminal behaviour and rumours of planned violence towards police. 57 were arrested according to The Guardian during the break-up of an occupation in Beak Street.

 

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@MetPoliceEvents Sec 60AA gives Officers the power to remove masks #J11” Meanwhile… pic.twitter.com/Iw7MSEFS5q

— Sean Hughes (@SeanWHughes) June 11, 2013

 

 

July 2013 – Announcement of Crime and anti-Social Behaviour Bill. Arrest at ULU after protest slogans written in chalk.

 

During July, the ‘Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Bill’ was announced. This led to widespread concerns among many that it could restrict the right to protest.

 

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As reported in the London Tab, 15 police officers were called to University of London Senate Building to arrest a student who had written a slogan in chalk on a wall protesting the closure of the University of London Union (ULU).

 

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#ULU protest – Konstancja Duff, 24, from Camberwell, has been charged with criminal damage and assault X2 on police –http://t.co/D6N01pENuG — Jack Grove (@jgro_the) July 17, 2013

 

 

August 2013 – Fracking protest – arrest of Caroline Lucas MP.

 

As reported in The Guardian dozens of anti-fracking protesters were arrested at the Balcombe site in a ‘day of action’ by activists during August.

 

 

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Latest picture from @rtcc_sophie at the #Balcombe #fracking protest: pic.twitter.com/gGT1NWarw2
— RTCC #climate news (@RTCCnewswire) July 25, 2013

 

 

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion was also arrested. Charges were later levied against the former Green Party leader for “breaching a police order on public assemblies and wilful obstruction of the highway.”

 

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Big thanks for all kind comments about #fracking protest yesterday & huge credit to all at #Balcombe for commitment to clean energy future

— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) August 20, 2013

One of most interesting issues in the fracking debate came in the role of Dr Edward Lloyd-Davies, who up until 2012 worked at the University of Sussex, it was reported in The Daily Telegraph that he was the founding member of Frack Off, the largest anti-fracking protest group. These reports attested to the continuing partnership between University staff and students in the demonstrations.

 

September 2013 – Aldgate East protests – EDL leader arrested along with 150 anti-fascist protesters.

An English Defence League (EDL) protest in Aldgate East was met by a large number of anti-fascist protesters in September. The leader of the EDL Tommy Robinson was arrested by police along with 14 others from the EDL. 150 anti-fascist protesters were also arrested for straying from the route. Approximately 3,000 police officers were deployed to keep order between the rival groups.

Robinson was also banned from speaking at Oxford Union the same month, amid ‘security concerns’. Speaking to the BBC, Oxford Student Union president Tom Rutland said that he was ‘delighted’ that the invitation had been withdrawn, stating:

“Fascist speakers who spread hate and threats that extend to our students and the wider community, and often bring with them a rally of violent and dangerous thugs, are clearly a threat to the safety of students and other residents of the city.”

 

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Pic from #EDL at Aldgate. Hearing about 800 anti-fascists in Aldgate East, not too far from the EDL protest site. pic.twitter.com/ULDRyrL
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) September 3, 2011

 

 

October 2013 – Edinburgh students detained during visit by Princess Anne.

 

Two students at the University of Edinburgh were detained by Royal Protection Officers at the University’s Old College Building during a visit by Princess Anne in September.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Students detained after being forcibly removed from Old College http://t.co/hHEp1686OW

— Student Newspaper (@TheStudentPaper) October 9, 2013

 

 

The students claimed they were quietly studying when searched and arrested by the authorities.

 

Police Scotland said that the students were not detained under terrorism legislation and the removal of the pair was due to their unauthorised presence within a restricted area. Speaking to Pandeia, University Trustee Mike Shaw branded the incident a “disgusting breach of trust between the student body and their institution”.

 

Meanwhile, Sussex students restarted their efforts to overturn the decision to privatise services at the university. The previous occupation ended with a number of arrests and the latest occupation again centred on the Bramber House building.

 

Sussex is #occupied
— occupy_sussex (@occupy_sussex) October 30, 2013

 

 

November 2013 – Michael Chessum arrested after meeting with University of London representatives. Police try to recruit ‘spy’ at Cambridge.

 

University of London Union (ULU) President Michael Chessum was arrested by police in November after organising what police claimed was an unofficial protest.

 

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Michael Chessum, ULU president has been arrested following yesterdays demonstration. More details here: http://t.co/YMELbXd11f #saveULU

— Leopard Newspaper (@LeopardNews) November 14, 2013

 

 

As reported in The Leopard this led to a protest outside a Holborn police station calling for Chessum’s immediate release.

 

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Pic- #ulu /student protest,Holborn police station,against Michael Chessum arrest. Full story: http://t.co/ml0v2rbV7W pic.twitter.com/hM2rxSrGtl
— Chris Parr (@ChrisParrTHE) November 14, 2013

 

 

Meanwhile, Cambridgeshire police received criticism for their attempt to recruit an informer within the student union at Cambridge University.

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Cambridge students denounce police attempts to recruit informant to monitor student activists http://t.co/9tjDOpIL1E

— TheCambridgeStudent (@TCSNewspaper) November 15, 2013

 

 

December 2013 – Multiple arrests and allegations of police brutality at ULU. Sussex students suspended then reinstated. #copsoffcampus.

 

Five students were suspended by Sussex University for their role in the on-going Occupy Sussex movement which has been based in Bramber House since late October.

 

This led to an outcry among many who supported the five and demanded they be reinstated.

 

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After pressure from the campaign, the students were eventually reinstated by the university.

 

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Another protest at ULU resulted in more arrests and a video emerged of a police officer apparently punching a protester.

 

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According to the London Student 36 arrests were made including editor of the London Student Oscar Webb who showed his press card to photographers while being arrested.

 

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This culminated in a day of protest: #copsoffcampus was a national day of action and a large protest took place in central London criticising police brutality and restrictions on protest by the authorities.

 

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Are Men Better Professors Than Women? Denmark Addresses the Academic Gender Gap

A ‘worryingly low’ number of female lecturers and professors in universities has lead to heated discussions about gender equality in Denmark. Following this ground-breaking study, Katrine Obel-Grønbæk  translates and investigates the Danish student medias’ analysis of the issue.

 The Danish government earmark 70 million DKK (12.7m US dollars, 9.4m Euro) for the advancement of female researchers, with the introduction of University led cash incentives for the employment of female staff after reports of ‘worryingly’ low female university positions throughout the country’s academic institutions.

Since 2000, more women than men have been attending Danish universities, and today an equal amount of female and male PhD students are being educated. However, these numbers are not reflected at the level of research where men still – by far – outnumber women. For every one woman that is appointed a professor at a Danish educational institution,  there are five men who get the title. And every time a woman becomes a lecturer, two men achieve the same.

New financial initiatives are going to secure more female researchers

In terms of the proportion of women in research, Denmark is not doing well compared to other countries. Last year, an EU survey ranked Denmark at a lowly 23rd out of 27 countries, far behind both Sweden and Norway.

The Danish government has responded with action. In cooperation with The Free Research Council, they have launched a program that is going to “promote a more equal gender composition of the research environments in Denmark”. The programme, which is going to cost 70 million DKK, will be open to all fields of study and both men and women can apply.

“But through dispensation from the law of equal treatment, female applicants will be prioritized over male applicants in cases of equal qualifications between two applicants,” a representative from The Free Research Council said about the programme.

“Our assessment is that we are losing a lot of talent,” the Danish Education Minister Morten Østergaard says to Politiken, one of Denmark’s leading newspapers. With an equal gender distribution among PhD students, he does not believe that the inequality arises because men are better at being professors than women. “

There has to be other things that come into play, apparently making the career path harder for women,” he says.

The measures, however, have been met by heavy criticism. According to critics, they translate into female favoritism at the expense of their talented male colleagues. And then it is no longer a question of equality, they argue.

The myth of meritocracy

Everyone agrees that individuals should be evaluated on their qualifications and not their sex. However, the numbers seem to indicate that gender bias still exists in the meritocratic structures of the universities: that is, a system whereby the talented are chosen and subsequently move ahead purely on the basis of their achievements and abilities.

For a long time, universities believed – and some still do – that meritocracy would prevail and that women just needed time to catch up with their male counterparts; they did get access to the universities later than men, so it only seemed natural. Up until now, the rationale has therefore been that the numbers would even out by themselves over time.

This has not happened. The proportion of women among the employed researchers at Danish universities has not changed significantly since 1979. In fact, if the current developmental pace is going to continue, we will have to wait another 246 years before there will be as many women as men among the faculty members of the University of Copenhagen. PhD student Gry Høngsmark Knudsen bases her numbers on employment statistics, among other things, and says that it is a myth that universities have always employed the best candidates.

Discrimination is hard to measure. But in 2012, for the first time, a ground-breaking study from Yale showed that gender is a factor. It had both male and female scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the ‘female’ applicants were rated significantly lower than the ‘males’ in competence, ‘hire-ability’, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student. The scientists also offered lower starting salaries to the ‘female’ applicants: $26,507.94 compared to $30,238.10.

The universities take action

“Believing that things will sort themselves out does not hold water. It is not because some angry, old men are sitting and trying to keep women out. There are structures, habits and a culture in society that means that we all – including the women – have a perception that men are slightly more smart and have a bit more edge. And we need to get rid of that,” associate professor Anja C. Anderson says to Politiken. She is one of the advocates for the new financial initiatives and she used to be part of the gender equality taskforce at the University of Copenhagen.

In the last few years, gender equality has been a key agenda at most Danish universities. In 2007, the University of Copenhagen introduced cash rewards to the institutes and faculties that hired female professors. Three years later, more than every fourth newly employed professor was a woman. The number was under 16 per cent before.

For the time being, it seems that women need help breaking the existing structural barriers. And it seems that finance is an area that can make a difference.

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.

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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