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Esmeranda Manful and Michael Atakora

Abstract

In recent years with the various austerity measures put in place by governments, the main providers of welfare, funding of social protection programmes have shrunk. Yet, protecting the less fortunate has never been the preserve of the State; families, communities and civil societies had always contributed in the provisions. One of such contributors are universities, though their core mandate is to educate but in addition many universities have established schemes and scholarships to ensure access to tertiary education for students from low income families. However, as in many social interventions, including Ghana’s, there is a gap between policy intent and practice, but often the focus is on the implementors not the beneficiaries. This paper therefore presents findings from a qualitative study exploring the perceptions of participating students in the ‘work and study’ programme in KNUST using the Social Action theory to unveil the reasons underpinning actions of students who have to work. A case study research design was adopted for this study using a qualitative approach with in-depth interviewing as the method of data collection. Fifteen undergraduates, volunteered to participate in the study. Data collected were qualitatively analysed using the NVivo software. Findings from the study revealed that students had multiple reasons for joining the scheme and it was not based on the sole rational motive of earning an income. The study provides an analytical insight that predicts the behaviours of beneficiaries of social protection initiatives.

Open access

Ágota Ábrán

Abstract

Part of the raw material accumulation for the medicinal plant industry in Romania is reliant on gathering plants from the so-called spontaneous flora. The imagery of medicinal plants played upon by medicinal plant product manufacturers is often abundant in visions of either wilderness or traditional peasant landscapes such as pastures. This article aims to present instead two different spaces where medicinal plants come from: wild pansy from within an oil seed rape cultivation, and elderflowers and nettles from the ruins of a former socialist orchard. These spaces of spontaneous flora highlight the process of capital’s appropriation or salvage of the ‘free’ reproductive labour (spontaneous growth) of weeds often at odds and against other capitalist processes. Moreover, salvaging or scrounging is done through the cheap labour of a family whose livelihood depends on work both inside and outside of this capitalist process. These places, therefore, highlight the tension between the spontaneous flora and scroungers on the ground and Nature with its ancestral peasants on the supermarket and nature shop shelves.

Open access

Matei Gheboianu and Bogdan Murgescu

Abstract

Student assessment of professors emerged in the context of university democratization and increasing involvement of students in the management of the higher education institutions. It was institutionalized mainly as an instrument to gradually improve the quality of teaching, and only rarely used as an element determining the hiring and firing of the academic staff. In Romania, it came to the forefront only in the context of the Revolution of December 1989, when students started to question the competence of their professors and asked for the removal of those whom they considered unfit. The article focuses on the concrete case of the “black list” issued by the history students in the University of Bucharest, and on the way this revolutionary challenge shaped the institutional governance and the further development of the Faculty of History. The analysis refutes attempts to consider this episode as a politically-motivated purge and to integrate it in the master-narrative of post-communist lustration. While highlighting the particularities of this case, which allowed to professionally-motivated students to initiate a major reshuffle in the functioning of a higher education institution, the authors argue that such a synthetical evaluation pattern may in fact be one of the not so uncommon ‘revolutionary’ paths towards establishing a regulated system of student assessment of professors.

Open access

Sergiu Novac

Abstract

This article explores how sustainability was staged in the context of EXPO 2000, the first and only world exhibition organized by Germany. The notion seemed to gain ground around the turn of the millennium in global political and policy circles, especially through such documents as the ‘Agenda 21’ and the ‘Millennium Development Goals’. These were also the main source of inspiration while organizing EXPO 2000, which, under the motto ‘Humankind, Nature, Technology’ claimed to put forward a radically different vision for the 21st century. However, throughout the paper I argue that sustainability ended up performing a quite different ideological function. In Germany, the staging of sustainability took place as an activation of expertize, meant to fix a crisis of the economy and to open up new grounds for capitalism’s search for profit, ultimately deepening the environmental crisis that it was meant to alleviate in the first place.

Open access

Davide Filippi

Abstract

This article addresses the process of political organization and unionizing among university researchers in Italy which are formally considered to be ‘in training’. This condition puts them in a sort of liminal space, between being recognized as fully employed professionals and being instead considered lifetime students. Their effort to organize politically can be seen as one of many ways through which students are fighting against the establishment of the neoliberal university model. The analysis is focused on the Italian movement called CRNS - Coordinamento dei Ricercatori non Strutturati (Non-structured Research Fellows Coordination), which formed to address this defining issue. The CRNS experiment aimed at achieving a sense of unity among the fragmented academic workforce and it can be considered a prototype of a new, grassroots form of union activity and organizing. The empirical data used in the analysis consists of ten in-depth interviews with university researchers, all Italian citizens, equally divided between men and women, who have all had to move around, as a function of their career and who have all been involved, to different degrees, in political and union organizing initiatives, regarding their conditions of ‘perpetual students’ rather than ‘not quite employed’.

Open access

Marcelina Smuzewska

Abstract

This study analyses the student movement from an organizational perspective. It specifically studies the Polish case using the organizational perspective originating from the works and Meyer and Zald. With the use of this theoretical tool, together with an anthropological approach to organizations, the author aims to describe three main organizations of student movement, namely the ZSP, NZS and PSRP, as well as the movement’s goals, resources, personnel, language and values. The comparison is made against the background of ongoing transformation. It is found that the situation of organizations has changed greatly, as has their position within the movement, and the components of each organization.

Open access

Gianni Piazza

Abstract

In time of economic crisis, since the 2008 credit crunch, many Western and European countries entered in the “age of austerity” characterized by the imposition of unprecedented large cuts in welfare state provision. Even the public education institutions have been affected by government policies characterized by budget cuts, neoliberal private-oriented reforms and increase in tuition fees for students. In reaction to this, in the following years, various global waves of protests have arisen in many countries all over the world. Differently from the past, not only students have promoted these mobilizations, although they are majority, but also the education systems workforce: from professors/teachers to permanent and precarious researchers, from temporary workers to technical- administrative employees. Although these mobilizations have had specific characteristics related to the national contexts, they have shared common aspects as the defence of public education and the refusal of the commercialization/marketization and privatization process. In this paper I focus on the mobilizations in the higher education system occurred in Italy. The most important waves of protests were in 2008-2010 against the budget cuts and the university neoliberal reform promoted by the former centre-right Education Minister Gelmini. If in the 2008, students and precarious workers mainly promoted the Anomalous Wave movement, so called for its unpredictability, in the 2010, beyond the students, the open-ended researchers were the main protagonists. Notwithstanding the mass participation and the sympathy of part of the public opinion, the reform and the cuts were approved and then, the mobilizations decreased and seemed to be completely finished. I argue that these mobilizations were unsuccessful not only because of the fragmentation of student organizations and because of the low salience of higher education in Italian public opinion, but also because protesters were not supported by most university staff and hindered by the academic authorities (deans and rectors).

Open access

Cornelia Mureşan

Abstract

Women are spending an ever longer part of their lives enrolled in education programs. A crucial question in this context is how motherhood can be reconciled and correlated with continued investment in human capital. A related question concerns the role the socioeconomic context plays in the education/family life balance. In the present study we account for the finding that a pregnancy resulting in a first birth usually triggers the termination of formal education, and, conversely, that the completion of education is often followed by a first birth. We use a simultaneous-hazard two-equation model, controlling for common potential but unobserved determinants. Relative to work already done on these matters, our study extends previous investigations to Eastern European countries which have not been adequately researched so far. To strengthen comparison, we have additionally included two Western European countries. This allowed us to assess the importance of political context. The results show that despite efforts to offer women the possibility of choosing both motherhood and being enrolled in education, the educational policies which were introduced in some Eastern European countries after the fall of communist political regimes could not counteract the negative effects of the transition to a market economy. In these formerly communist countries, the continuation of studies in parallel with childbearing and family formation has become more difficult.

Open access

Viorel Proteasa, Liviu Andreescu, Vlad Botgros and Alexandra Dodiță

Abstract

Who is who in Romanian student representation? In this article we answer this (apparently) simple question. We start with early 1990, when the Romanian campuses experienced ample changes – part of the societal transformations which swept over Central and Eastern Europe. Our ambitions in this text are twofold: (1) to construct a map of student federations in post-communist Romania, and (2) to identify and describe the waves of structuration of the field. In doing so, we revert to classical social theory and document the emergence of “organizational archetypes” of student representation. We identify two types of structuration, “bottom-up” and “top-down”. We find evidence regarding the resilience of the “bottom-up” organizational archetypes in relation to the successive attempts of “top-down” (re)structuration.