MEPs seek cash fillip for Belarus students

April 14, 2006

The European Parliament is seeking extra European Union funding for exchange programmes for young Belarusians expelled from their universities and colleges on political grounds.

The MEPs drew attention to the flawed nature of last month's presidential elections in Belarus, with the pressure to vote for the incumbent, Alaksandar Lukashenka, and to the violence with which police broke up the opposition protest camp in Minsk's October Square.

A large proportion of the several hundred protesters detained were students. Under the terms of a presidential decree, students convicted of criminal acts, including criticising the President, are almost always expelled.

The Belarusian human rights watch organisation Viasna reported that expulsions began last week at the Maksim Tank Pedagogic University and the Medical University in Minsk.

Poland has promised university places for at least 300 students, with Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary also pledging support.

Students at risk of expulsion fear a steady dribble of expulsions over the next few months, rather than in one burst more likely to attract world headlines. Others expect the crunch to come at the end-of-session exams.

"They could stop us taking exams on some pretext, then throw us out for not having taken them," one student said.

In the Czech Republic, Jirí Zlatuyška - former rector of Brno's Masaryk University and now a senator in the country's upper house of parliament - urged swift action to help Belarusian students expelled from university or denied an education.

Professor Zlatuyška said the Czech Republic should act now while universities had the capacity to accept additional students.

Offering persecuted students places in Czech universities was both a practical measure and a strong signal of the country's disapproval of the Lukashenka regime, he said.

Education Minister Petra Buzková discussed the issue with the Czech Rectors' Conference and said there would be no obstacles to Belarusians studying in the country, initially in Czech but later in English. Fees would be covered by the ministry, she said.

The Council of Europe strongly condemned the denial of academic freedom in Belarus, after hearing from Anatoly Mikhailov, rector of the European Humanities University and a number of students from Belarus who have been expelled.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants