Students protest large increase in tuition fees at University of Belgrade in Serbia

Many faculties at the university have decided to increase tuition fees from the autumn session of the academic year 2023-24. The hikes range from 9.1% to 46.8%

March 06, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
6-03 Students' Protest - Serbia
Students’ blockade at the Faculty of Architecture in University of Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo: via PRL)

In response to plans by the University of Belgrade in Serbia to increase tuition fees at 14 of its faculties, students of the university and youth groups in the city have begun protesting. Last week, students of the Faculty of Architecture blockaded the faculty building, protesting the increase in yearly tuition fees from RSD 240,000 (USD 2,176.80) to RSD 300,000 (USD 2,721). 

Groups including the Studentski Front (SF) have demanded that the university immediately roll back the increase in tuition fees. The Union of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ), the Party of the Radical Left (PRL), and others have expressed support and solidarity with the protesting students. The Student Council of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb in Croatia also issued a statement in support of the students’ protest at the University of Belgrade. 

According to reports, citing high inflation rates in the country, several faculties at the University of Belgrade recently decided to substantially increase tuition fees from the autumn session of the current academic year. As per the revised rates, there will be an increase in fees in 14 of the 31 faculties at the university, with hikes ranging from 9.1% to 46.8%.

Students affiliated to the PRL said that the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture had tried to justify the hike in tuition fees “during an informal address to students in the faculty hallway,” where the dean “reiterated that parents’ salaries have increased.” However, the working class in Serbia is dissatisfied with the meager increase in wages and minimum wages promised by the government for the year 2023. Unions have termed it inadequate to meet increases in the cost of living.

Milos Karavezić from the leadership of the SKOJ told Masina, “Our principled stand is to fight for free education and student rights, which is why we support this protest. We believe that it makes no sense for the Faculty of Architecture to burden students with the price of tuition fees, especially with this rise in prices and living costs.”