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Colombian students protest over higher education budgetary crisis – and ex exchange students support them from all over the world

Colombian students took the street again. Following the decision of 32 public universities to interrupt their activities until they will receive adequate financial support by the State, on 17 October peaceful protests were held all over the country, in cities like Bogota, Pereira, Florencia, Medellin and Cali. This was already the second wave of protests in October.

The students’ anger lies in the fact that higher education in Colombia continues to suffer from an increasingly poor budget. As a matter of fact, the budget of public higher education has remained basically unchanged since 1993 (the year when the Higher Education Law came into force), but the number of students has grown exponentially since then (159.000 in 1992 against 611.000 in 2018). This has led to the dire situation in which public universities have not enough funds to guarantee the basic security measures in their infrastructures, or to pay the professors, and are therefore obliged to increase the study fees, with the result that public education is becoming more and more an elitist matter and students have to take on a big deal of debt to pursue their studies. The recently elected President Ivan Duque has committed to invest 500,000 millions of pesos (roughly EUR 140 million) for the year 2019, but this promise is far from satisfying the students’ requests of 4,5 billion pesos. 

Colombian students are not alone in their protest: a group of ex exchange students who were studying in Colombia two years ago have decided to produce a video in which they support the students in the protection of public higher education, from everywhere they now find themselves in: Germany, Australia, New Zealand, France, Norway, Switzerland, Venezuela, Mexico. A small gesture, which nevertheless proves how exchange periods abroad affect students even when they go back to their countries, creating a community in which friendship overcomes time and space. 
Link to the support video by ex exchange students. 
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