N8 EuroDusnie action

Our university is not for sale!
notícia colocada por: EU Students (Translation) em 2001-11-09 www.azine.org

November 8th 2001: Action against growing influence of commererce in education

Free Translation from Dutch into English (I tried to give my best English)

One day before the WTO-summit in Qatar. Action in the Dutch city of Leiden against commercial influences of education. „Our university is not for sale“. A banner with these words was hanging on a building of the state universitybuilding in Groningen (RuG-Netherlands). About 40 students united in the „concerned students collectiv“ tried to get attention from the public opinion by occupying the universitybuilding in order to let the world know that corporate influence on education is growing rapidly. In their Pressrelease they wrote: „ We are not far away from the Rabobank university where Shell is teaching us about developing third world countries and where Philip Morris is doing research for Lungcancer. At the 8th of November, one day before the WTO summit starts, the direct action group of Eurodusnie did an action against the sell out of public education. In Qatar the development of a new round of liberalisation on the agenda. Today Eurodusnie's direct action group took out commercial billboards of the university canteen, they did is while it was full of people with broad daylight. These billboards are the symbol of the increasing influence of commerce in education. The billboards where brought to the Amsterdam airport „Schiphol“ where they wher handed over to a company called "Worldwide bagage service" with the question of they could fly the billboards to Qatar because we don't want them on our university.

Our demands are:

Background information


The VVD (Dutch liberal party) minister Jorritsma has said that the universities should be jugded by their market-ableness (they mean: judged on the fact how competitive they are in a free market of education, translator). The minister of education made similar comments. Their comments fit in the framework of the bologna declaration of the European ministers of education and the General agreement of Trade in Services (GATS) of the WTO: commercialising of education as part of the privatisation of the public sector. By the public transport we already saw it: International companies have the opportunity of taking over the former public sector like public transporcompanies. Jorritsma says that because the private companies have to make profit they can provide this services much more efficient. That is exactly what's waiting for public education. By the GATS-treaty public education will become a trade-article. European schools and universities have to transform so they can be made competitive for the American competitors. That is the reason why in the Bologna-declaration is agreed to transform the universitiy-system to one single sytem in all European countries (not only in the EU). That is the reason for the Bachelor-Master structure (BA/MA). With this system the university can easylier compete with eachother. When people like Jorritsma get what they want, only universities that are fit for the market and useful for private companies will be supported. Education and research will get even less independent.


National legislation and educationpolicies are less important than free trade. When the rules of the GATS-treaty are not obliged than it will be possible for private companies to sue a state at the WTO and the WTO can sentence this state with for instance trade-sanctions. This could mean for instance that the financing policy of public education in the Netherlands has to be changed or even abolished so education-companies and schools and universities from other countries can provide their services on the same conditions. This could lead to higher fees for students from schools and universities. That will be followed by an increasing accessibility of education and social exclution. The „topmasters“ of Minister Hermans are already an example of market-able financed educationsystems: the discussion is about the question if a further learning program after a university study should be paid by the student or the company where he or she is working for.

Policy without a vision

With reason students- and schoolstudentunions in Europa and other places are afraid that the GATS-treaty will undermine the accessibility of public education. GATS comes in through the backdoor of a trade-reaty from wich the consequences are not realy clear. The biggest problem is that politicians who run the show are often not even aware wich influence GATS on their department will have. The treaty is handled out by the ministers of trade, not by the minister of education. After the European Studentunion ESIB spoke about GATS on a conference in Stockholm, several officials of the education-minister came to them to ask what GATS is all about and if they knew more. In the researchproject „Learning without borders“ from the OCW where the main line is drawn for the Dutch education policy for the next 10 years the lack of kowledge is getting clearer. The internationalisation is being described as just another trend for wich studyfinancing for students, accessibility and securing the quality of education can be fixed in a short term programm. There is no vision about accessible and for the whole society important edducation on an international market that is moving towards commerce and privatisation.

WTO in Qatar

Local schoolstudents and students have to show that they won't accept the growing influence of commercial intrests that are supported by the Bolgna-declaration and the GATS-treaty. Some of them have showed their protests on the streets of Prague, Nice and Genoa. But a lot of schoolstudents and students didn't even hear about GATS and they ofcourse also don't know anything about the consequences for their daily education. That what the EU ministers and the EU commissioner for trade, Pascal Lamy, are agreeing with in the ongoing GATS-negotiations is will be in the principle a dead end street: because of a very dangerous and undemocratic clause in the treaty it's not possible for WTO-members to change anything in the treaty once it's being signed (So if the educationmister or members of parliament want to change the treaty..it won't be possible, the treaty is a tradetreaty wich mus not be ratified by the parliament, translator). It's very important that issues of this nature are being taken democraticly and after a public debate. Otherwise democracy is being undermined and the influence of corporate-power of the transnational corporations who's intrests are very good represented in the GATS-treaty will grow. From the 9th untill the 13th of November the fourth ministerial WTO-conference will take place in Qatar. Their goal is to start a new ambitious negociationround in order to establish more liberalisation. When they succeed they will change our future to a future of maximum profits and commerce on an international level. Liberalisation and free trade is the sellout of everything wich is important for a righteous society. Also because of this new round accessible education for all is in the line of fire.

More information about the EU-wide Schoolstudents- and studentprotests:



Website of Eurodusnie:

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