By Safia Abahaj Temsamani
By Safia Abahaj Temsamani
Morocco World News
Granada, Spain, May 13, 2012
Moroccan students in Spain, one of the most vulnerable groups in Spanish society are facing serious problems due to the economic crisis. The government of Mariano Rajoy will now require Moroccan students in Spain who must begin to pay 100 percent of tuition for their higher education studies under the Decree-Law. This was just one of the measures announced by Rajoy as the government cuts public spending.
Currently, Spain is in a state of recession (arguably depression with over 20 percent unemployment). Therefore, the Spanish government has found it necessary to take such measures to appease financial markets and European Union leadership to get through it and to pay its debts and spark economic growth again. The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy has decided to implement a number of austerity measures to try to reduce the deficit and thus fill the coffers. One of the most controversial points concerns its international students.
This week, a group of Moroccan students gathered together to create a platform under the name “Platform of Defense of non-EU students” (ESDP) in order to raise awareness about this move that threatens the future of thousands of youngsters and to express outrage at the silence of the Embassy of Morocco . As one Moroccan student said, “I studied at the Spanish School in Tangier since I was a child, I came to Spain a few years ago to study at the university but now I am condemned to leave this country and finish my degree in another European country, because the new decree,, increasing our tuition by six-fold, is certainly a death sentence.”
Massive student demonstrations were organized nationwide, especially in the historical city of Granada, where according to local police over 4000 students recently gathered in a massive demonstration with a strong presence of Moroccan students. The motto that was repeated during the two hours of the demonstration was “No To Super Payments” “No al Tasazo”.
In addition to now requiring students to cover their entire tuition fees starting next year, the Spanish government has found it necessary to increase tuition. This follows six other tuition increases in recent years and the clear policy of austerity being applied towards Moroccan students is happening without the slightest interest in the subject by the Moroccan Foreign Ministry.
In Spain, there are between 3,000 and 6,000 Moroccans students among approximately 44,000 foreign students from outside the European Union. Within this group of Moroccan students, there are children of immigrants and students who came from Morocco in order to complete their studies in Spain. It is a fairly a low number of students compared with other foreign students who are in the country. Moroccan students will be affected by the Decree-Law of April 2012 ratified by the government of Mariano Rajoy, that provides an increase of 100 percent in the amount of tuition due by all non-EU students. Currently, tuition does not exceed € 1500 for these students, but beginning in the next academic year the tuition fees rates will range from between six and nine thousand euros per year.
The promulgation of this Decree-Law is causing a state of terror and surprise among Moroccan students who altogether do not have such amounts to continue their studies in Spain. So the vast majority will end up abandoning Spain to return to Morocco or go on to other European countries.
Spain counts, among other means, to develop cultural relations with Morocco through the students who form a bridge between the two sides to overcome long-existing divisions between the two countries. Yet The Spanish decision to impose such high tariffs on Moroccan students should be considered as a blow to cooperation projects, which without students cannot bear fruit.
Moreover, these students have suffered each year from an unfair policy to renew their student residence cards. A relaxation of conditions for the renewal of this card has been expected by the Government of Spain. If it occurs, it will only be of small consolation, after the exaggerated increase in tuition fees.
Moroccan students keep waiting in hopes for the moment when both governments realize their interest in finding a sensible solution to this serious problem.
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