Science - April 6, 2006

‘Let Belarussians study here’

Students from Belarussia that have been banned from the universities by dictator Lukashenko, should be admitted to Dutch universities, if it’s up to the Dutch national student union, LSVb.

During demonstrations after the ‘electoral victory’ of Lukashenko during recent weeks hundreds of students were arrested. After being released they are often expelled from the university by the Belarussian authorities. To help these students, the universities in Poland have already signed an agreement with their government that enables them to continue their study in that country. According to the LSVb, Italy is also preparing a similar agreement.

Secretary of state for education Marc Rutte is sympathetic to the idea, but says that it is not a legislative issue. ‘It is above all a matter for the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). And it is also up to the universities. They will have to be able to arrange course space and housing.’

A spokesperson for the IND stated that Belarussian students can apply for a residence permit as long as they speak English, have the right qualifications and hold a valid passport. Wageningen UR Executive Board spokesman Simon Vink regards the action as ‘sympathetic’. ‘If the national authorities make it possible, we will be happy to cooperate.’ / HOP, KV

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