Government Lacks Transparency on Reducing Tuition Fees

In late December, Prime Minister Edi Rama published his response to students’ demands in a document called The Pact on University. Rama claimed he had met all students’ demands.

Students responded that government’s response was partial, unsubstantial and unreliable.

January is the deadline for students to pay tuition fees, which they had demanded to be reduced.

Some media reported today announcements in several faculties calling for full tuition fees to be paid.

Today Rama called on students in Twitter not to pay more than 50 percent of the tuition fee:

“The kidnappers, who degraded the student protest into violently blocking access to universities, and into street shows parading the brutality of ignorance, in collaboration with some riffraff in universities, are now trying to misinform students regarding tuition fees! No one pay more than 50%!”

On 26 October, the government approved a decision setting the ceiling for tuition fees in all public universities: “[…] The maximal limit for the tuition fees […] will be paid by students at 50% of the value […]” According to the decision, the government will compensate universities from the state budget for the remaining 50 percent of the amount.

Exit’s calculations show a minimum amount of €12 million the government will need to pay to universities. The already approved Law on Budget for 2019 does not include a special fund for education, which could cover the paying of 50 percent of tuition fees.

Approving funds from the state budget can only be achieved through amendments to the Law on Budget for 2019, already approved in Parliament.

In a following twit, Rama wrote that the government will fully pay its part of 50 percent to universities within January.

However, despite public statements, the Council of Ministers has not approved any decision regarding the fund to be allocated or the way universities will be reimbursed. This lack of legislative action puts a question mark on government’s will to meet students’ demand for reduced tuition fees.