Students demanding increase in student support with demonstrations

  • 2023-04-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - On Wednesday morning, student representatives will go to Stenbock House in Tallinn and to the offices of political parties holding coalition talks to hang up posters demanding an increase in student allowances, a demonstration will also be held in Tartu.

The main message of the campaign is "Thank you for your promise", with which student activists refer to the rumors that, despite the political parties' pre-election promises, student allowances will not be increased according to the new coalition agreement.

The basis of the initiative is a joint public appeal of several student unions sent to the political parties holding coalition talks a few weeks ago, in which they indicated the need to increase the need-based study support and increase the total amount of the performance scholarship fund for higher education institutions. Since, according to rumors, these wishes will not be fulfilled in the new coalition agreement, the student representatives prepared posters, which highlight the pre-election promises of each party participating in the talks regarding students and an increase in their allowances. Ironic words of thanks for at least making the promise have been printed on the posters.

Kristin Pintson, deputy head of the Federation of Estonian Student Unions, said that the initiative aims to draw more attention to the current economic situation of students.

"It is extremely unfortunate to hear that the political parties holding coalition talks have decided to continue ignoring the poor economic situation of students," Pintson said.

She added that the current initiative could make politicians find a way to find funds from the state budget to support students.

"We hope that our action will resonate in the government cabinets before the coalition agreement is signed and will serve as the final wake-up call for politicians, because the economic prospects of students have drastically worsened in recent years," Pintson said, highlighting the sharp rise in the cost of living and the fact that state subsidies for students have not increased in the last ten years.

Hanna Britt Soots, deputy chair of the student union of the University of Tartu, added that it is especially important to increase the need-based study support aimed at students.

"The purpose of the initiative is to show that we will not be silent until the students have decent conditions created by the state for coping," Soots said.

She added that the indifference of politicians to the state of students is infuriating and pointed to the fact that the state does not value students as a sufficiently important part of the functioning of higher education.

"One thing is the financing of higher education in general, which includes curriculum development, infrastructure improvement and lecturers' salaries. However, the coping of students as the social group that is the foundation of higher education is a completely different matter, which our politicians seem to not care about at all," Soots said.

The posters will be hung in the government building in Tallinn and in the main offices of the Reform Party, Estonia 200 and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), in addition to the town hall building in Tartu and the Tartu office of the Reform Party. In addition, the message will be displayed on several screens across Tallinn over the next two days. The event is organized by the Federation of Estonian Student Unions and the student unions of Tallinn University and the University of Tartu.