Donnerstag, 29. Oktober 2009

Students Revolt in Austria Enters 10th Day

Vienna – The Students Revolt in Austria which began on Tuesday 20th October with the occupation of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and spread wildly over the whole country entered today its 10th day.

Today, four thousand people took the streets in Graz, in southeastern Austria, to protest against the continuing degradation of their study and living conditions. In early afternoon, the assembly-hall of the faculty of social sciences at Innsbruck University, in the federal state of Tyrol, was squatted by students. That means that, at the moment, lecture rooms and spaces at all principal Austrian universitys are occupied by student activists. Only the little university of Leoben, in Styria, which specializes in mining is not yet seized by the waves of protest.

The main focus of the student unrest are the deteriorations connected with so-called “Bologna process”, an European Commission programm aimed to bring the whole European higher education system into neoliberal, capitalist lines.

In a highly absurd move, the Austrian government tried to calm down the protests on Tuesday in naming Science Minister Johannes Hahn as Austria's candidate for the new European Commission, possibly for a science-related portfolio.

But on Wednesday 28th october, as many as ten thousands of students demonstrated in Vienna and other Austrian towns, calling for better conditions at their universities.

Protesters at Vienna University issued an open letter to the government, calling for free access to higher education and more funding. Their protests were a reaction to Science Ministry plans to reintroduce tuition fees and restrict access to universities.

Besides the fifty thousand that activists said were demonstrating in Austria's capital (ten thousand following the police), around five hundred students marched through Salzburg. Universities in Klagenfurt and Linz have also become venues for protests.

The students occupying Vienna University's largest lecture hall for the 8th day said Wednesday that they were waiting for a meeting with Science Minister Johannes Hahn.

"Our schedule is flexible, because we aren't going away," the letter said.

At the moment, Hahn is persisting to refuse a meeting with the squatters of the Vienna University. Today, the Minister was only prepared to meet Sigrid Maurer, the chairwoman of the state-near student union (Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft) for a talk which finally remained without result.

(With Deutsche Presse Agentur/DPA)


Best mainstream coverage (for german-speaking readers, with news ticker):

Der Standard (a Vienna daily newspaper; they count, as the students generally do, the 29th october as the 8th day of the protests, starting with the occupation at Vienna university on October 22nd)




Unsere Uni

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Malen nach Zahlen (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)

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