FEF: Fighting against inequalities
The Federation of French Speaking Students (FEF) is the most representative union of French-speaking university students in Belgium. For years, all levels of government in Belgium have been cutting budgets in several fields. This situation directly impacts the students’ quality of life. Therefore, a growing part of young people find themselves in an overall precarious situation which forces them, in a growing number of cases, to depend on social security funds. That is why FEF is working to improve students’ living conditions by focusing on social allowances, access to medical care, culture and art schools.
Budget cuts are currently endangering Belgium’s health care system. The lack of demand for Medical studies is a good example of the political choices leading to this situation. Belgium has been facing a shortage of physicians for a few years now, but governments never made the necessary changes in order to reverse the situation. On the contrary, the admission process for medical studies is becoming more demanding. This will result, in a few years, in an even bigger doctor shortage in Belgium which will inevitably lead to a decrease of accessibility to healthcare.
Regarding students’ allowances, a new reform has been adopted September 2016. This new law is extremely unfair: it excludes, among others, students whose earnings are less than a certain amount, leaving the poorest ones without any additional financial resources. FEF is currently fighting for this reform to become more inclusive and to expand the number of students allowed to benefit from the allowances.
Finally, questioning Belgium’s policy on culture and artistic education is crucial. As a matter of fact, when cuts are made, the culture is often the first field to be impacted. This is the direct consequence of the way the governments conceive the role of artists and creatives. The current state of art schools in Belgium is a direct result of this vision. Some of the problems include highly damaged buildings and no quality equipment at students’ disposal. The health and safety of future artists is at stake.
The massive budgetary cuts undoubtedly affected the youth and their access to medical care, culture and jobs, leaving them, in some cases, without any financial support to continue with their studies. FEF stands strongly against this situation and works intensely with and for the students in order to achieve a substantial change.