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News 25 Feb 15

Macedonia Caves In to Students on Education Law

Protesters claim victory after government agrees to involve students in drawing up a completely new higher education law.

Goran Rizaov
BIRN
Skopje

 

Macedonia’s government has thrown in the towel to student protesters and has agreed to draw up a completely new Higher Education Law without the controversial and unpopular external tests, the Students Plenum said late on Tuesday.

A new Higher Education Law - without involving external tests - was agreed at the meeting between the Students Plenum, Professors Plenum, the rector of Skopje University, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance held on Tuesday.

The students will stop their boycott of classes but will for now continue to occupy the Faculty of Philology and Philosophy where they have been running their own program for 15 days in a row.

After the meeting, the Students Plenum representative, Ivana Tufegdzic, said that the argument for a totally new Higher Education Law had now been won.

“The current law has been changed 16 times since 2008 and with that it lost its complementarity, enforceability and essence, creating legal uncertainty,” Tufegdzic said.

She added that the new law would redefine the whole concept of higher education, using a methodology that will involve the students as part of the academic community in each phase.

The rector of the university, Velimir Stojkovski, said he was pleased with the solution and the creation of a new law. Media reports quoted him as saying that working groups preparing the concept for the new law would be formed in 30 to 45 days.

A conference will then be organized after which wider working groups will write the draft. In the last phase the draft will be submitted to the public for debate.

“This way of work will create a constructive environment in which everyone can give their input to the creation of a quality draft that would be implementable for all and would lead us towards Europe in terms of the European education criteria”, Stojkovski said on Tuesday.

He appealed to all colleagues and students to get back to their working obligations.

The first protest organized by the Student Plenum was held on November 17, 2014. In December, more than 10,000 students and university professors marched through the capital against the proposed law, in what was considered the biggest student protest in Macedonia’s post-independence history.

Students claimed the proposed introduction of external, state-supervised exams undermined the autonomy of the country’s universities. The government said the exams would improve the overall standard of higher education.

 

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