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Students fed up with Berlusconi reforms

In Trieste, students protest government reforms by taking over lecture halls and physics labs

Throughout Italy, students have boycotted courses, and occupied auditoriums. As we go to press, half of all research staff are not teaching.

Their protests come as the Berlusconi government carries out a series of reforms to the university that, the critics claim, will cut government funding and increase fees for students.

At the University of Trieste in northern Italy, hundreds of students from the Faculty of Science sat in at their local physics department for eight days.

»We believe that the Italian university needs a reform« says Francesco Randi, a student representative from the occupied department responding to the University Post query. Just not the reform suggested by Mariastella Gelmini, Minister of Education from Berlusconi’s party, he adds.

Higher fees for students

The minister’s reform is claimed to align Italy’s university system with the international situation. It cancels the previously circumscribed ‘ricercatore’ (researcher) position and introduces a tenure-track system instead.

Read our overview of European governments cuts to higher education here.

But this, complain researchers and professors, is a bad idea on the back of 19 per cent cuts in funding planned for the next three years.

University fees are expected to increase considerably, even though students already, on average, pay DKK 11,000 a year.

Grabbing attention

University departments have been occupied in Trieste, Milan, Turin, Rome and Naples. The aim is to get the attention of the Italian media, who even outside the Berlusconi-empire rarely go beyond the scandal of the moment.

»After two weeks of suspended lectures and student assemblies, we decided to do a spectacular act. We slept at the department for eight nights« says Francesco Randi.

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