For the University, For the Society

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1747 ... January 23, 2019

For the University, For the Society:
How the Student Protest in Albania Became the First Massive Resistance to Neoliberalism

Edlira Xhafa

Early December 2018. It all started as a seemingly spontaneous explosion of student anger against the fees imposed on students for ‘re-sit exams’ in one faculty. It almost immediately brought together thousands of students from various faculties from the University of Tirana, and soon after from the University of Agriculture in Tirana. They all came together in front of the Ministry of Education. Inspired by their fellow students in Tirana, in the following days students from other universities in the major cities of Albania organized similar protests at their own universities and some even came down to join the student protest in front of... the Ministry of Education.

Albania had not seen a student protest, and indeed any other protest, of this scale since another December, that of 1990, when thousands of students organized the very first massive and open act of resistance to the totalitarian regime in the country. Naturally, many started to speak of a "Second December." As the student protest grew larger, the anger shifted from unfair fees for re-sit exams to the unaffordable tuition fees, especially for the graduate studies, which have forced many students to take full-time jobs as waiters or call center workers and many others to quit their studies. There was anger against very poor conditions in dormitories, degraded or inexistent laboratories, lack of student libraries, the pricey books filled with plagiarized material which students are forced to buy, the corrupt professors asking for money in exchange for a passing or good grade and, against the notorious Law for Higher Education (the Law), which has deepened and sealed the endemic problems of public universities.

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