Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Administration of European Humanities University facing challenge from disgruntled professors

By Alena Spasyuk, BelaPAN

Professors of European Humanities University in Vilnius (EHU) opposed to the policies of the current administration of the Belarusian university in exile have established a coalition that will seek to win seats in the forthcoming Senate elections.

In an interview with BelaPAN, one of the founders of the "For New EHU" coalition, Volha Shparaha, said that it was necessary to put an end to the administration's "authoritarian" practices and restore European Humanities University's original role of a Belarusian university advocating European values.

Thirteen of the 13 candidates in the elections have reportedly joined the coalition.

In an appeal, the coalition says that EHU is experiencing a "deep crisis" and accuses the administration of disregard for the views of the academic community, including the Senate and the trade union, and excessive commercialization of academic programs.

The elections are scheduled to take place on November 19.

Founded in 1992 in Minsk, European Humanities University was stripped of its license by order of the Belarusian education minister in July 2004. Alyaksandr Lukashenka explained afterward that the government had closed EHU because it had made its students pro-Western and had refused to follow the government's ideology and education policies. He accused the institution of failing to "train students like other schools did," and making "our Belarusian kids" victim to "adults' political games."

In 2005, European Humanities University was reestablished in Vilnius thanks to international political and financial support. EHU currently provides training to about 1,600 students, almost all of whom are citizens of Belarus. Philosopher Anatol Mikhaylaw has served as the university's rector since its establishment.