Updated at 11:44,21-11-2017

Violations of academic freedoms becoming increasingly serious problem in Belarus, says Public Bologna Committee

By Alena Spasyk, BelaPAN

Violations of academic freedoms and rights of the academic community are becoming an increasingly serious problem in Belarus, a group called the Public Bologna Committee says in a statement.

By joining the Bologna Process, Belarus committed itself to the implementation of a reform roadmap that provides for devising and introducing legislative and education policy measures aimed at protecting the rights of students and professors, the statement says.

Speaking at a conference on Thursday, Uladzimir Dunayew, a former vice rector of European Humanities University (EHU) who leads the Public Bologna Committee, insisted that Belarus was not abiding by those commitments.

Dr. Dunayew pointed out that a print run of “The Long Road from Tyranny: Post-Communist Authoritarianism and Struggle for Democracy in Serbia and Belarus,” a posthumous book by political analyst Vital Silitski, a former EHU professor, had recently been destroyed by order of the information ministry.

Dr. Dunayew accused the administrations of higher education institutions of compelling students to vote early, do manual work instead of studying and attend government-organized "mass events" and of ignoring a campaign against charging fees for resitting examinations. Activists of the campaign have already collected thousands of signatures for their petition, he said.

According to Dr. Dunayew, although campaigners are facing persecution, official student bodies pay no attention to their complaints.

In May 2015, Belarus formally joined the Bologna Process. The country is now required to implement the roadmap for accession to the European Higher Education Area and respect principles and values such as academic freedom, institutional autonomy and student participation in higher education governance.