BM73: ESU claims social dimension back on the political agenda in Austria
Over the last more than 15 years, students’ unions all over Europe claimed social dimension on the political agenda on the international level and on the national level of many countries. First steps towards implementing national action plans, towards widening access to higher education and towards an open scientific community have been taken so far. Many students’ unions take part in these processes with their expertise and their motivation to give under-represented groups the possibility to study.
In Austria, after the elections in October, the future government seems to go in the opposite direction: There are already discussions about restricting access to universities and the reimplementation of tuition fees. At the moment, there are tuition fees for students from non-EU-countries and those who study longer than the scheduled semesters, which leads to inequalities. However, when Austria introduced tuition fees the last time, 21% of university students (which is 45.000 students!) stopped studying.
Last January, the Austrian ministry presented an ambitious national strategy on social dimension which contains measures such as well funded counselling activities, incentives for universities to tackle the social dimension on the institutional level, guidance and mentoring activities and orientation possibilities for students and prospective students. Regarding these facts, ESU calls on the future Austrian government and the future coalition partners not to destroy the constructive collaboration with the national students’ union and demands access to Higher Education for all students. Barriers such as access restrictions or tuition fees need to be abolished, not raised.
ESU stands for Higher Education as a human right and supports the Austrian Students’ Union ÖH in standing up for students’ rights and against discrimination and inequalities of any kind.