Sofia University Up in Arms against Subsidy Cut
Students and educators from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria’s oldest, are staging Tuesday a large-scale protest rally against the school’s reduced subsidy.
The drop in funding is part of the anti-crisis measures package approved by the cabinet while the date for the rally – May 11 was selected because this is the Day of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, fathers of the Slavic literary culture.
The President of the University, Prof. Ivan Ilchev, told reporters on Monday the cuts are unfair because the University, unlike other secondary schools in Bulgaria, maintains 17 buildings which have been declared historical sites for which BGN 7 M a year have been slated so far, while in 2010 this funding has been reduced to BGN 2 M.
Ilchev further pointed out that in 2010, the State subsidy for the school is 90% of the one in 2009 while the latest cuts bring the University at the 2005 level when there have been 2 000 fewer students.
The President, however, said the protest will be peaceful with demonstrators gathering in front of the building to read a declaration and perform a short skit.
Last week, Ilchev sent a letter to Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, to inform them the reduced subsidy will make the end of the school year difficult and the beginning of the next one nearly impossible.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the President if the Economic University in Sofia, Borislav Borisov, further voiced discontent over the downsizing of the subsidies for college education and pointed out all schools will have to struggle to purchase consumables, pay salaries and will be fully impeded from making investments, renovations, buy equipment and increase salaries.
Borisov, who is also Chair of the College Presidents’ Council, supported the rally, but proposes the State-funded colleges and universities to begin offering paid education as a way to deal with the situation. Currently, only private colleges collect fees while in the public ones, students are admitted by exams and grades and do not have to pay for their education.
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