Thousands of Higher Education students demonstrated across the country this Thursday, the eve of National Student Day, demanding an end to barriers to accessing Higher Education and denouncing that the worsening cost of living threatens the continuity of studies . In Porto, hundreds of university students made themselves heard, in a gathering that started at 4 pm, in front of the Rectory of the University of Porto.
In Praça de Gomes Teixeira, in front of the Rectory of the University of Porto, hundreds of university students chanted “united students will never be defeated”, “tuition fees and Bologna are all a disgrace”. They pointed to the need to improve the quality of education and complained about difficulties in accessing and staying in higher education.
Francisco Pedro, 22 years old, is a student of the Master’s Degree in History Teaching at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto (FLUP). Born in Alcobaça, and without the right to a scholarship, he explains what led him to join the demonstration. “As a displaced student, in addition to having to pay all the costs associated with teaching, such as tuition fees, I also have to bear travel and housing expenses, without having any kind of help”, he lamented.
With the galloping growth of inflation, Francisco Pedro says he had to make cuts in his routine to be able to pay housing expenses at the end of the month. “I changed my eating habits and stopped doing some activities to save money,” he said.
Constança Viegas Martins is a representative of the Board of the Students’ Association of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, she is 21 years old and is graduating in plastic arts with a specialization in multimedia and emphasizes the importance of “student participation in this fight”.
Joana Teixeira, 22, also a student at FLUP, guarantees that “there are many students who drop out of college because they cannot pay the fees”. She understands that “as education is a constitutional right, the Government must ensure the means for this right to be fulfilled”.
In addition to the question of the high prices of housing and student residences, students also demand free meals in the canteens of educational establishments, because “despite having lower prices than in restaurants, food also becomes a factor that leads students to drop out of education”.
Worried about the future, students also took the opportunity to protest against the new rules for access to higher education, which will come into force in the 2024/2025 school year. “This is an elitist norm that will limit the access of many students to higher education and, moreover, calls into question the methodology of continuous assessment”.
In Lisbon, hundreds of students demonstrated in a protest that started at the Faculty of Fine Arts, for the end of “barriers in higher education” and more support.
The motto “How long will the wall go up? End barriers in higher education” was chosen for the protest that takes place on the eve of National Student Day.
By 2.30 pm, a few hundred students had already gathered in front of the Faculty of Fine Arts, while many others continued to arrive. Shortly after 3 pm they started the march towards the Assembly of the Republic.
“Education is a right, without it nothing gets done”, “Government, listen, students are fighting” or “Scholarships yes, fees no” were some of the slogans that echoed through the streets of Lisbon and that have already been decorated in other demonstrations students.
Young people demand more social action, an end to tuition fees, a review of the legal regime of higher education institutions, but also student accommodation solutions, a problem they say has been getting worse, as a result of the housing crisis.