Polish students stall controversial bill that would clamp down on academic freedom

Polish students stall controversial bill that would clamp down on academic freedom

Student protests in Poland have succeeded in delaying a bill that opponents say could threaten the autonomy of universities.

Known as Bill 2.0, the act includes proposals to reduce funding and research opportunities for regional universities, and aims to diminish the control held by the University Senate — a body of students, academics and other university employees who organise the day-to-day running of the institution– in favor of a University Council, consisting of individuals from outside universities.

Another clause, recently added, requires female researchers employed at academic institutions to retire from their careers at the age of 60, five years before their male colleagues.

Poland's ruling right-wing nationalist party, Law and Justice, has increased governmental control over many facets of society since it took power in 2015. Critics feared this draft law was another glimpse of authoritarianism.

For almost two weeks, fences, balconies and walls in universities across the country were peppered with handmade banners, painted cardboard and fluttering pamphlets, as students occupied spaces and voiced their disapproval of the planned reforms. The protests marked the first nationwide occupation strike of students since 1989.

After the Polish parliament postponed the vote until July, with the ministry claiming it would submit a changed proposal, students across the country ended their protests.

This article by Juliette Bretan originally appeared on Global Voices on 26/06/2018. Minor edits have been made. 

Image: Guillaume Speurt

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