Around 150 students demonstrated at the Congress column in central Brussels on Thursday lunchtime, demanding strong measures from public authorities to fight against student precariousness, fuelled in recent months by high inflation.
With inflation only continuing to increase on the back of the energy crisis, the students feel as though the government has failed to listen to their demands. Now, students are calling for “strong and effective structural measures” to help protect them.
“Minister (of Higher Education for the Brussels-Wallonia Federation) Valérie Glatigny repeats to us that our requests mainly address other levels of power and that she is challenging them to get things moving. But these levels of power are represented by largely similar people, so we, therefore, expect the rapid implementation of cross-cutting aid programs,” said Emila Hoxhaj, President of the Federation of Francophone Students (FEF).
The FEF states that 80,000 students, nearly one in three in French-speaking regions, were already experiencing difficulties before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Now, with the ensuing energy crisis and high inflation, this number has increased, but with less support from the authorities. Hoxhaj said that it was now time for them to act.
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Concretely, the FEF is demanding “affordable” student accommodation, student canteens offering meals, the widening of criteria for grants, increasing the amount of scholarships, and introducing yearly public transport passes for all students, regardless of their age.
The FEF has succeeded in collecting 10,000 signatures towards its petition for these demands.
A delegation of demonstrators were received at the office of Minister Glatigny at around 13:00, not far from the site of the protest.