The “Iskra” student organisation from Slovenia is expressing our full support for activities undertaken by our fellow organization “Studentski front” in Serbia. In the light of the upcoming student assembly which will take place on October 1st, we wish to show you our deep solidarity and let you know that you are not alone in your struggle for quality and accessible education.
Since the start of the neoliberal attack on the public good and public services, public education has been under pressure of interests of capital. In practice, that meant and still means dissolution of the welfare state, including the public school system, financialization of education and incursion of private capital, which brought private interests into the sphere of education. All this changed the purpose and content of the university and higher education. In its new role, higher education is supposed to serve “the market”, producing students who are not equipped with general knowledge and abilities for critical thinking, but are only endowed with competencies, needed in the “labour force market”. Furthermore, ever raising tuition fees and other study-related costs mean that higher education is no longer a possibility for students from weaker social backgrounds. Thus, obtaining higher education becomes reserved not for the capable, but for the ones, who can afford it, and the gap between the country’s poor and rich sharply increases. In Europe this development was heralded by the Bologna process.
Your demands should be understood in this context. Cutting the number of exam dates, transferring the burden of financing the fifth year of studies to students, and restricting access to education by decreasing the number of accepted master students are not mere technocratic changes or small austerity measures in “hard times”. They are part of a constant battle of capital against students, workers, pensioners and others. Therefore, the changes should be addressed in this light as well. In the long term, student movements around the globe should strive for an effective form of self organization, which will enable them to express the needs and interests of not only students, but also workers, and unite them in not merely expressing these interests but fighting for them. When fighting for free education, we must not forget that the core of the problem is not that some of the future students will not be able to afford higher education, but that inequalities as such even exist. Even fight against changes of a particular law must be therefore put in a broader context.
Iskra and Slovenian students wish you a successful assembly, which will hopefully serve as a great impetus for the upcoming struggles. Let us never forget that the fight for free education and against commercialization of knowledge and higher education is a part of the same universal struggle that is taking place all over the world.
Ujedinjeni ćemo pobediti! Mi smo studenti, nismo klijenti!