Students and university professors have announced more protests after parliament went ahead with adoption of a controversial plan to introduce compulsory external, state-supervised exams for graduates.
Students and professors have announced more protests, boycotts of classes and occupations of public places and teaching facilities after Macedonia’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a controversial Law introducing mandatory externally supervised exams for graduates.
As the law was adopted in the evening, protesters outside parliament lit candles and erected a cross, symbolically “burying” higher education.
“Parliament has been deaf and refused to hear our demands for a brand new law that will thoroughly resolve the open issues over higher education” said Ivan Nikolovski, an activist from the protest movement, Students’ Plenum.
Protesters carried banners directed at parliamentarians, reading “Which part of ‘No’ don’t you understand?” and “Why so defiant?”.
Students and professors now put their last hope in President Gjorge Ivanov using his power to veto the law. He has not stated whether he will do so or not.
Protesting professors previously wrote to Ivanov urging him to use his veto powers “in defence of the constitution”.
The Law on Higher Education has been advertized as a reform that will improve the quality of higher education.
Sixty-seven of the 123 MPs in parliament voted for the Law while nine voted against in a session to which most opposition MPS did not show up.
Opposition parties have been boycotting parliament since April 2014, accusing the government parties of winning the last election through of electoral fraud.
In December, over 12,000 students protested against the plan, which they argue will undermine university autonomy.
Alongside the activists of the Students Plenum, many university professors also joined the cause and organized what was soon dubbed the “Professors Plenum”.
However, the government of Nikola Gruevski – in power since 2006 – has refused to back down, blaming the protests on the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM.