Solidarity statement on interference in the autonomy of student organisations in Montenegro
On January 26th 2021, the General Assembly of Students’ Parliament of the University of Montenegro (SPUM) unanimously decided to support the initiative submitted by five out of the 15 members of the Managing Board of the University of Montenegro (UoM), to dismiss the President of the Managing Board as well as UoM’s Rector. The decision was made following multiple attempts of SPUM and student representatives to cooperate with the UoM management on decision-making matters that severely impact the rights and educational interest of the students at UoM. More specifically, UoM management demonstrated little to no willingness to invest in university infrastructure, failed in the implementation of practical teaching in accordance with the Law on Higher Education and neglected to address the degradation of knowledge and competencies due to diploma hyper-production (info).
After the announcement to unanimously support the initiative, major coercive pressure was initiated by the Rector and the UoM management in Montenegrin general public to discredit SPUM and its students’ representatives, which shows a tendency of interfering in the work of students’ representatives autonomy (info).
The European Students’ Union (ESU) supports SPUM in its plight for autonomy, independence and democratic representation in the student movement of Montenegro and urges UoM to assure the freedom of speech, uphold academic values and to potentiate, rather than diminish, the autonomous working environment of the student representatives.
The European Students’ Union, together with student representatives of SPUM:
- Calls for the immediate cessation of any external interference in the work of student organizations
- Calls for running down any type of external influence on the decisions of students’ representatives in order to respect democratic principles as well as to preserve academic freedom
- Calls for further dialogue and understanding of the UoM management towards respecting the autonomy on decision making within student organizations
ESU stands firmly in solidarity with SPUM and its representatives and opposes all types of undemocratic and coercive actions pointed toward limiting student organizations autonomy and independence. The UoM, being the only public university in Montenegro, should be an anchor of inclusive and democratic higher education, where principles of autonomy and independence of democratically elected student representatives should be firmly embraced and respected.