Students in several countries across Europe have taken to the streets in anger at proposed cutbacks to higher education. The apprehension of such measures being enforced was clear across several cities in Italy, when protesters’ waving placards demanding further investment clashed with police. The current Italian government faces pressure from creditors to cut public services, and in employing such cuts Prime Minister Enrico Letto’s supposed aim is to reduce Italy’s annual public spending by around $13.5 billion by 2017.

In Sweden similar scenes unfolded as students went on strike as a means of voicing their anger over what they described as the privatization of higher education. On their website the students organizing the protests in Lund, Gothenburg, Uppsala and Stockholm claimed that any change to higher education would "…seriously affect the quality, accessibility, and openness of the Swedish universities.”

In Spain and Bulgaria demonstrations are also attracting the attention of many as demands for change are being made. Students in Bulgaria are calling for a change from the Socialist-backed minority government, which is currently facing allegations of corruption. Protesters in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia attempted to close in on parliament but were driven away from the scene by riot police.

Further objection to corruption and austerity was seen in Madrid, where a group of five people are engaged in a hunger strike. Unrest continued throughout Madrid as street cleaners entered into the second week of their strike against proposed plans to cut jobs and reduce the pay of those who remain.

With many across Europe articulating their dissatisfaction towards proposed cuts, maybe we should devote a little more time to questioning our views on matters like public spending, higher education and university fees. Whilst our apathy may seem grounded, based on the privileges we are so readily able to enjoy, we are only able to further such privileges when we engage with them.

Fiona McCrindle


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