Romanians take to street

October 26, 1995

Romanian students have begun the biggest wave of nationwide protests since the 1990 student movement was broken up by miners in Bucharest.

All student unions including the largest, the League, called for an unlimited strike to defend the principle of free higher education and demand better living conditions.

Tens of thousands of students took part in marches in Bucharest and university towns across the country, calling for the resignation of education minister Liviu Maior.

They are protesting against a government decision to introduce a "repeat year tax" of up to Pounds 700 on students who failed to move up into the next year.

Some 25,000 students would have to pay the tax, including those who attended courses irregularly or did not write their examination papers.

The issue has mobilised students not directly concerned by the levy. Among their demands are less restrictive criteria for grants and cheaper transport and electricity.

After negotiations with a student delegation, Mr Maior agreed to let each faculty determine the rate of the tax.

However, the protest movement then hardened, with further marches and the decision to call the country's 300,000 state university students out on an all-out strike.

In Bucharest, the demonstrations were met with heavy security deployment around the senate but no incidents were reported.

Students in neighbouring Moldavia also went on indefinite strike last week. They are demanding better living conditions and official recognition of the language of Romanian.

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