After the government announced a cut back of 183 million euros on education, UvA students have tirelessly demonstrated their discontentment by protesting, marching and sending petitions to The Hague last semester. As the new academic year arrived, UvA students have received little to no answer to their call for help. This week, student associations ASVA, Humanities Rally, University of Colour and Disability and NU! brought back the attention on the issue by organizing what they called “Yet Another Night of Protest” at Oudemanhuispoort campus and CREA. On Monday night, the protest kicked-off the WOinActie-Week, a week in which events focused on the budget cuts and their impact they have on UvA, the entire higher education system and the students.
Consequences of the budget cuts
Unlike every other Monday evening, the surroundings of the CREA Café at the Roeterseiland Campus was bustling with people. The protest aimed to show support for teachers protesting this week against the consequences thrust upon them due to the government’s budget cuts. And this evening was just the beginning. “There will be a program for the whole week,” says Alba van Vliet, head of ASVA. “From Tuesday on there will be lectures and documentaries outside the CREA Café at Roeterseiland [sic], to draw attention to the consequences of the budget cuts.” Van Vliet highlighted how the protests and demonstrations against these cuts are not a concentrated reaction, but “A nationwide movement in different cities throughout the Netherlands.” She adds how, “Through the budget cuts, less money is spent on education and the pressure on students to finish their studies as soon as possible increases. This is not how education should be.” Such sentiments were echoed throughout last night’s protests by students and university staff alike.
Sophie Valcour, a 21-year-old cultural studies student at AUC, took part of the “poetry block” at Oudemanhuispoort where she presented two of her poems to dozens of attendees. Even though her studies have not directly been affected by the budget cuts, the student strongly supports the cause. “I am angry at the reasons why the budget cuts happened, rather than at the budget cuts themselves,” Valcour said. Later on during the night, two conferences were hold on-site: “An accessible and emancipatory university” hosted by the University of Colour and Disability in English, and “Kapitalisme en de Academische Ruimte” hosted by Gijs van Donselaar in Dutch.
Education 2.0: The Importance of Education
Last week, The Amsterdammer reported on the consequences of the budget cuts on higher education in the Netherlands. As WOinActie-Week kicks-off, the initiative aims to bring the government’s attention on students and teachers’ discontentment. The week will end with the “March for Education 2.0,” which will take place in front of the Oudemanshuispoort campus on Friday. Its name has a double meaning, according to van Vliet. “On the one hand, it is already the second march taking place to protest against the budget cuts,” she explains. “On the other hand it stands for ‘education 2.0,’ a new way of education, an education that should be invested in instead of cutting the budget for it. Because everyone should get the best education possible. This week, we protest to show the importance of education.”