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Albanian students sick and tired of high tuition fees

Albanian students are fed up with a higher education system that they judge unfair, unequal and which does not put their interests at the core. Therefore, on 4 December students have taken to the streets in different university cities across the country, under the slogan “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”

The malaise of students in Albania is nothing new: already in 2015 the government took a very unpopular decision, by adopting a law that would increase university fees and allocate state funding to private universities. Already then, students considered this decision highly unfair: tuition fees in Albania range from 20,000 leks (EUR 160) to 320,000 leks (EUR 2,600) and are therefore unaffordable for many Albanian families: the average monthly salary in Albania is about EUR 380. Moreover, the 2015 law puts private and public universities on an equal footing when it comes to public funding, although public universities are in much more precarious conditions than private ones. There are currently 40 universities in Albania: 16 are public and 24 are private. 

The last straw was the recent decision to make students pay for their retake exams, in an amount of EUR 5 per exam credit. In Albania, exams are usually made of 6 to 9 credits; therefore each retake would cost students between 30 and 45 euro, on top of the normal tuition fees. Protests started off on 4 December at the Tirana University of Urban Planning, and then propagated with a domino effect throughout the other public universities. 

Although Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and Education Minister Lindita Nikolla have accepted to withdraw the decision to make students pay to take resit exams and have declared themselves ready to meet the students, protests are continuing. Students are striking the iron while it’s hot: they are asking for a bigger funding in public higher education, better living conditions in dormitories and more representation in decision-making boards. 

Link to video of protest
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