University World News
June 29 2013

Tuition fee hike out of touch with economic reality

Rok Primozic29 June 2013 Issue No:278

Plans to raise tuition fees in Armenia up to 30% could have
devastating consequences for Armenian society, as it would severely
limit students' chances of gaining access to higher education.

Tuition fees were already increased by 15% on average in May at many
public and private universities. This is out of proportion with the
country's socioeconomic development given that students have to pay
US$1,048 in tuition fees on average a year when nominal salaries are
only about $260 a month.

Armenian graduates have already been hit hard by the economic crisis
and high unemployment, with students facing a grim image of their

European students are very concerned about the recent developments in
Armenia and have supported the fight of the Armenian National
Students' Association, or ANSA, against this policy. On 21 June, the
European Students' Union sent a letter of support for ANSA to all of
the main stakeholders in the higher education field in Armenia.

The union believes that education is a prerequisite for building a
knowledge-based society, where the role of higher education is vital
in developing an active civil society and a stronger economy and
providing equal opportunities for all.

A high level of education results in lower unemployment rates, better
quality of health, lower crime rates, more societal involvement and
higher tax returns.

`Raising tuition fees hinders individuals from accessing higher
education, thus making education a privilege of the elite and for
those that can afford to pay the fees. In the economic situation of
Armenia, where the amount of fees exceeds the average salary by far,
the effects of raising the fees are hazardous both for the individual
and society at large,' the letter stated.

More than 10,000 national unions of students in Europe have also sent
their letters of support to ANSA to show their solidarity against
increased tuition fees in Armenia. In the past few weeks, the Armenian
students' association has also actively organised public hearings and
meetings with more than 10 local student unions, and these meetings
have attracted more than 1,000 students.

ANSA has made an official statement on this issue and distributed it
to the main stakeholders in Armenia, at the Council of Europe and the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe offices in
Yerevan, the European Union-Armenia office and the Ombudsman in
Armenia. That statement was also sent to the rectors of Armenian
universities who took the decision to raise tuition fees as well as
rectors of other higher education institutions in the country.

The European Students' Union has given its full support to ANSA's
efforts and has appealed to the authorities responsible for changing
the fees to reconsider that policy because of the impact it will have.

`Young people are the future of a society, and everyone deserves the
right to receive an education, regardless of their socioeconomic
background and their ability to pay,' the union's letter said.

* Rok Primozic is vice-chairperson of the European Students' Union.