New Year, Same fight – Student protests will recommence on January 7th
by - Geralda Cela

2018 finished on turbulent terms for Albania’s university students. After protesting for nearly two weeks for their eight demands – which included greater student representation on education boards, lower tuition fees and better learning conditions, students returned to their respective home cities to celebrate the festive period with family, still very frustrated by the lack of clarity and growing distrust toward the government.

Although students abstained from the Prime ministers’ calls for dialogue for weeks, wanting to keep the focus on the eight demands, rather than politics. Some students have given the Rama government the benefit of the doubt and engaged in dialogue to see what could be done for a transparent higher education model.

However, this only heightened tensions and distrust toward PM Edi Rama; Who seemed more concerned with speaking than listening – offering a monologue rather than dialogue. A monologue in which Rama embarrassed students in front of peers, asked personal financial questions, made unrelated comparisons such as how some students could afford phones but not tuition. And, generally, spent most of the time diverting attention from the real matters in hand.

With that being said, these Student protests – the biggest of their kind since the 1990 December protests led to the demise of communism – have really shaken the apathy that has allowed unchecked, corrupt practices to flourish so far.

And if these student protests are anything to go by it’s clear that the next generation of citizens could really evoke some change by fighting for their rights and a brighter, fairer Albania.

Here, we are some of the interviews taken from our first issue, where the students of the University of Tirana protesting share their thoughts on the situation, their feelings toward the government, the media and why they joined the protests – more to come in issue 1.

All photography : Eva Çupi Interview: Eva Çupi & Geri Cela

Dea – Student of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning

Why did you join the protest, what was your aim?

I joined because students don’t have a voice in a lot of the faculties, and we need to have our voices heard in our schools.  

How has the government responded so far?

The government offered dialogue but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, our requirements are very clear so there is nothing to dialogue about.

For how long do you think you will protest continue for?

As long as it takes.

What is the best situation for the outcomes from this for you?

I see these protests in a much bigger perspective, I want that everyone in Albania understands that everyone has their own rights and we can get them by doing this.

Dea – Student of Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning

And what do you think of the media their role in all of this?

The media until now has misshapen the protests, trying to make it political. But we are trying to make them understand that it’s not political at all.

However, do you think there are media’s who are neutral?

No, I don’t think so.

Elisia Hasanaj – Medicine Student

And what do you think of the media their role in all of this?

Well, surprisingly – I’m thankful for the media because they have been transmitting live all the protests all the time. And they have been interviewing students of what they think.

Why do you think the EU has remained silent on this issue for you so far?

I don’t know, maybe they’re waiting for something? Maybe they don’t want to express themselves right away. I’m really looking for something from them because we all know that Albania is really affected by the opinion of the outsides.

Elisia Hasanaj – Medicine Student 


Ersild Sherja – Medicine Student

Why did you join the protest, what was your aim?

So, firstly, I didn’t join the protest because I felt like the theme of the protest and the objective was something I wasn’t interested in but then, after about three days I understood that this was a protest for all of the Albanian students so I felt that I should join.

Can you give a message for those reading this article?

We will continue and we will go on until our demands are accepted and basically that’s all – we just want our 8 demands to be met.

Ersild Sherja – Medicine Student


How have the media shaped events for you so far?

Some of the corrupted media have politicised the whole situation by painting it with political colors. Others, such as Ora News have closely watched the protest and treated it like a heroic move that’s lighten every bit of hope in Albanina’s hearts.


Resina Jaupaj – masters Law student

What is the best situation/most important thing for you to achieve from this protest?

If the protest goes well, I think it will give [university] students status in [faculty] school politics and the conditions will get a lot better. But if they don’t go as we want, there will be a great change in the politics of Albania.

NIKOLLA GJOKA –Politechnic student

Can you give a message for those reading this article?

I want to say to all the students around the world, understand the power that we have to start taking part in our decision for our future.

NIKOLLA GJOKA –POLITECHNIC STUDENT


I feel like there will be a mass protest including the parents and other people that support us

Anonymous – Engineering

Why did you join the protests?

Every day I would go to University I saw the students more and more upset and stressed and nobody would care that the most creative people in our country were facing more responsibilities than they could deal with so when we came all together.

Erda – Medicine student