Today, four thousand people took the streets in Graz, in southeastern Austria, to protest against the continuing degradation of their study and living conditions. In early afternoon, the assembly-hall of the faculty of social sciences at Innsbruck University, in the federal state of Tyrol, was squatted by students. That means that, at the moment, lecture rooms and spaces at all principal Austrian universitys are occupied by student activists. Only the little university of Leoben, in Styria, which specializes in mining is not yet seized by the waves of protest.
In a highly absurd move, the Austrian government tried to calm down the protests on Tuesday in naming Science Minister Johannes Hahn as Austria's candidate for the new European Commission, possibly for a science-related portfolio.
But on Wednesday 28th october, as many as ten thousands of student demonstrated in Vienna and other Austrian towns, calling for better conditions at their universities.
Protesters at Vienna University issued an open letter to the government, calling for free access to higher education and more funding. Their protests were a reaction to Science Ministry plans to reintroduce tuition fees and restrict access to universities.
Besides the fifty thousand that activists said were demonstrating in Austria's capital (ten thousand following the police), around five hundred students marched through Salzburg. Universities in Klagenfurt and Linz have also become venues for protests.
The students occupying Vienna University's largest lecture hall for the 8th day said Wednesday that they were waiting for a meeting with Science Minister Johannes Hahn.
"Our schedule is flexible, because we aren't going away," the letter said.
At the moment, Hahn is persisting to refuse a meeting with the squatters of the Vienna University. Today, the Minister was only prepared to meet Sigrid Maurer, the chairwoman of the state-near student union (Österreichischer Hochschulverband) for a talk which finally remained without result.
(With Deutsche Presse Agentur/DPA)
Best mainstream coverage (for german-speaking readers):
Der Standard (with news ticker)
Facebook: "Audimax Besetzung in der Uni Wien - die Uni brennt"
Protest auf der Akademie der Bildenden Künste: http://www.malen-nach-zahlen.at/