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Tuition fee hike out of touch with economic reality

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  • Tuition fee hike out of touch with economic reality

    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.