UDU campaign against Student Loans in Italy
During this month (July 2018), some Universities in Italy started disseminating a survey among students, asking for information and opinions about student loans. This survey was prepared by a private company and commissioned by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the purpose is clear: the Ministry is considering the implementation of student loans.
The University Students’ Union in Italy (Unione degli Universitari – UdU) denounces that this initiative has been taken without involving and consulting students’ representatives and organisations.
Moreover, UdU highlights that the survey is being carried without any control and it’s easy to manipulate not presenting enough guarantees of being representative. In order to give evidence on the lack of reliability and denounce the situation, UdU invited students to boycott the research. They were asked to fill the form multiple times, including comments against the implementation of student loans.
The action appeared in the national media and newspapers and the Minister Marco Bussetti stated that the survey was launched by the previous government. However, a few days later, the State Secretary for Education, Salvatore Giuliano was asked about the intentions of the Government on the issue and contradicted the previous statement by the Minister.
It seems that the Italian Government is considering the implementation of student loans as a measure to widen participation in Higher Education.
UDU is strongly against the idea of creating student debt as a form of student support: “we have seen how this can undermine the public responsibility in Higher Education, putting in danger public support systems such as grants” says one of the representatives of the Students’ Union.
In those countries where student loans are implemented, especially where they are replacing scholarships for students with a disadvantaged background, students are in trouble with repaying their debt and face a future made of anxiety and poverty.
This is even more likely to happen in a country like Italy, where students have to pay the third highest tuition fees in Europe, where scholarships cover just the 10% of student population due to lack of funding, and youth unemployment is higher than almost all the rest of European countries.
Therefore, UdU launched a petition on change.org addressing the Minister and asking to stop the process immediately and invest more resources in public support for low-income students.
The National Union is asking for support and solidarity all over Europe by signing and sharing the petition with the hashtags #NOdebitostudentesco and #nostudentdebt