Dozens injured as Spanish students, police clash

19th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Students were protesting over government plans for education reform when police moved in, resulting in more clashes.

BARCELONA – Dozens of students and police officers were injured during clashes at a Barcelona university, health workers said Thursday.

The violence, which broke out during student protests over government plans for education reform, left about 24 students and 32 police officers injured, said a spokesman from SEM, the region's emergency service.

Clashes first broke out on Wednesday morning as police moved in to clear some students who had been staging a sit-in on campus. Officers arrested 19 students, who were later released on bail.

There was more violence overnight Wednesday, as students held an impromptu demonstration on campus to protest the earlier police action against the sit-in, police said.

Student organisers said 5,000 people attended the protest, though police put the figure at half that number.

A statement from the student's union denounced police "brutality" and what it said was an increase in police action against students.

Rafael Olmos, the head of Catalonia's police force, late Wednesday blamed the students for their "very violent" resistance to the police operation to end the sit-in.

The campus sit-in started in November to protest the Bologna plan, an European Union-inspired series of university reforms that have sparked protests across Europe.

In 1999 European Union education ministers signed the Bologna Declaration which bills itself as a series of changes to post-secondary education intended to ease mobility for both students and academics.

But students complain the changes will mean they will have to obtain a pricey master's degree to win the same recognised level of educational achievement as previously with just one degree.

They also argue that the reforms will pave the way for the privatisation of universities and higher education costs.

AFP / Expatica

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