“Universitari” student journal – triggering students’ critical thinking and active participation (2016-2018)
The Institute for Critique and Social Emancipation (ICSE) aspires to foster active participation and raise the emancipatory political consciousness of the subordinated and marginalized social groups, students included, as it stands for free public education and the democratization of universities. We regard the education as a public good and human right that should be accessible to all regardless of their socio – economic background, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion etc. So, this project is seen as a continuation of the previous one – a support to “For the University” student movement – and aims at raising students’ consciousness about the structural problems of the university realm and fostering students’ mobilisation into forms of self-organisation within the university structures.
The publication of the student journal “Universitari” proved to be a valuable experience for those who engaged in its actualisation, as well as an important tool for information, awareness and mobilisation against the higher education reform imposed by the Government. Besides that, it contributed to the articulation of university criticism against the new reform and it extended the university cause in marginalized communities like Roma, LGBT etc. The “Law on Higher Education and Research” was approved by the Albanian Parliament on 17th of September 2015 (returned for the second time, the first time was approved on 21st of July but was not decreed by the President of the Republic Mr. Nishani) despite of the consistent opposition and mass mobilisation of students, professors, faculty councils and various actors of civil society organised by “For the University” movement.
We believe that the publication of “Universitari” would still be needed to articulate student’s perspective on university life and more general aspects of the society where living; to strengthen students’ voice by giving them an effective communication tool and improve their writing skills.”Universitari” is conceived as a collective effort to reflect on and set up grounds to raise a new public discourse on the everyday reality of Albanian students. But different from the previous editions, the new journal would expand its focus even outside the university and treat issues that students face as citizens and social beings, topics like: living conditions in student dorms; students’ access to cultural ad sportive life in the city; youth engagement in ecological issues; mainstreaming gender equality etc. This requires the constitution of a permanent editorial board of 4-5 people whose day to day work would comprise: gathering information; making interviews; investigate on how and what the faculty budget is spent for; translation of analytic and critical articles on worldwide education system; studying the economical, legal, political and ideological factors which influence students’ conditions; calling for articles, especially among students, and editing them etc. Implicitly, the studying of the students’ labour and living conditions and the latter influences on their studying capacities and performance needs a more comprehensive approach. Therefore, thorough investigation with interviews and questionnaires would be needed.
So, to conclude with the main activities which would address and try to reach out what was mentioned above, we foresee to:
- Establish a permanent editorial board of students’ journalists to continue the work with “Universitari”.
- Hold a survey in several public faculties to get feedback on the level of consent and readability of “Universitari” among students to better understand readers’ profiles and interests.
- Encourage activism and students’ self-organisation into cultural or other participatory clubs within public faculties.
- Hold a public campaign with posters and stickers about students’ living conditions.
- Organize public assemblies with students, professors, activists and representative of decision-making structures of public universities for providing students the opportunity to address their issues and collectively look for better solutions.
- Arrange cultural public events in Tirana and other cities during summer in order to raise awareness about high tuition fees and living condition in students’ dormitories.
The publication of data and analysis gathered in the field, study investigations within higher education institutions, focus groups, interviews and public assemblies, and a number of talks from independent student organizations from the Balkan region dealing with similar issues, will help to introduce the issue to a wider public and constitute a definite step towards students’ empowerment, and ultimately to their self-organization as a tool of resistance against harmful governmental policies.