Saturday

17th Nov 2018

Focus

Students: 'Don't let Belarus join EU education area'

  • Despite the crackdown on students, some support Belarussian accession to the higher education zone (Photo: Leonid Varlamov | mmet.livejournal.com)

European students have warned that Belarus should not be allowed to join the EU-led higher education zone due to the ongoing repression of students and academics.

The European Students’ Union issued an appeal on Wednesday (14 December) to European states to block the country’s accession to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a regional agreement aiming to deliver greater transferability of qualifications and co-operation between universities and colleges.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Even though Belarus might fulfil formal criteria to join the EHEA, it should not become part of it as there is no such thing as academic freedom in Belarus,” said Allan Pall, the chairman of the student group.

Last December, some 600 Belarusian activists, mainly young people and students, were arrested and put on trial while 20 students were expelled from their university following protests against the election of the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

“What we saw last year December with the violent repression of demonstrators, says it all: Belarus is not democratic enough yet to be integrated,” Pall told EUobserver. “[This] process is not only about harmonising European higher education, it is above all about common academic and democratic values."

The following month, following a student letter-writing campaign, the Norwegian Ministry of Education initiated a joint statement with ten other European countries expressing their concern about the violation of academic freedom in Belarus. Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK all denounced the repression. Poland has since come out against the Belarussian adhesion.

The current balance of votes in the 47-state regional association is unclear ahead of a decision at a ministerial meeting that will take place in Bucharest in April next year.

However, a number of EU states including Denmark, which was a signatory to the Norwegian letter and will hold the EU’s six-month rotating presidency from January, back Minsk’s adhesion, arguing that increased educational links can encourage democratic debate in the country.

It is understood that both Hungary and Slovakia back Minsk joining, along with all six countries in the EU's Eastern Partnership programme, apart from Azerbaijan.

From Greenland to Russia, Belarus is the only country in Europe and central Asia apart from Kyrgystan that is not in the education zone. The disputed territories of Northern Cyprus and Kosovo are also excluded.

Opinion

Belarus as a permanent challenge for the EU

A new project for economic integration proposed by Russia's prime minister to create a Eusian Union based on the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is a major challenge for the European Union.

Anti-Bologna movement spreads in Spain

Opposition to the Bologna Process, an EU-inspired series of university and college reforms, has expanded substantially across Spain in recent weeks, as students protest, occupy school buildings and even block rail lines.

Opinion

Academic rebellion against Bolognese bureaucracy justified

Ten years after the start of the ‘Bologna Process', higher education ministers are meeting to compare notes. Yet their Louvain meeting is being faced by a counter summit of students and academics opposed to the process. These opponents are right to be worried, argues Josie Appleton. The formula of x hours study = y credits = z degree wiil only breed intellectual confusion.

Students should vote for pro-Erasmus MEPs

Students in the EU who love Erasmus should vote twice: once for their party, and once for the MEPs in their party who support the exchange scheme.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us