Edition 213 - January 2019

Albanian Minister of Education steps down over students’ mass protests

In our December newsletter we reported on the mass protests of Albanian students. Started off at the University of Tirana, the demonstrations have quickly sparked all over the country. Albanian students are tired of a higher education system that they judge too expensive with regard to the quality of teaching and services they get in return.

Those protests have now led to a concrete result: the Minister of Education, Lindita Nikolla, resigned on 8 December and was removed from her post on 28 December. Her place has been taken by Besa Shahini, former deputy Minister of Education. Further to Nikolla, Prime Minister Edi Rama has reappointed six other ministers. Prime Minister Rama has also agreed to halve the undergraduate fees and to withdraw the decision to apply fees for the retakes (the sparkle which ignited the protests), which marks a victory point for the students. 

However, protests are deemed to continue due to the fact that Prime Minister Rama has not repealed a 2015 law that the students judge highly controversial. According to this law, private and public universities are encouraged to compete with each other to get public funding. Although this was a measure meant to improve the quality of research of Albanian universities, it allegedly lacks reliable standards and incurs many problems related to plagiarism. A motivation behind it, according to the protesters, is the fact that professors are overburdened with their teaching duties and cannot dedicate themselves to quality research. Prime Minister Rama has tackled this issue by promising to impose fines between LEKS 1 and 3 million (between EUR 8 000 and 24 000) for plagiarism.

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