“We now have to decide between living, eating or studying.Emila Hoxhaj, the president of the Federation of French-speaking Students (FEF), has the feel for the formula amid a demonstration against student precariousness this Thursday afternoon in the November drizzle at the Place du Congrès in Brussels.
We’re not necessarily aware of this on this side of the border, but our neighbors and cousins have inflation more than double ours (+12.27% in Belgium, +5% in France in October). Even if family allowances and civil servants’ salaries are adjusted in line with the cost of living, with increases of 2% planned for November, December and January, Belgians “no matter what” do not benefit from our tariff umbrellas and other emergency support measures.
The social and student councils of the universities and colleges are mobilizing. Jean-Charles, a 22-year-old “organic quality” student at the Haute École Léonard de Vinci, remarks: “The school is very present. The requests for help have exploded.» At the Free University of Brussels, the 2-euro meals are a phenomenal success.
The energy-price-indexed rents in the private sector have risen by around a hundred euros on average for standard 15 m2 studios since September. However, student accommodation costs in Brussels already reached a high average of €500. It went from 44% to more than half of a student budget.
Rising rents and undeclared work
Emma, who is doing her third bachelor’s degree (which corresponds to the license) in economics and social sciences at the ULB, has just moved to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre to save ten euros a month on rent in a shared flat. “With family allowances, the scholarship and €200 a month from my grandparents, I spend €440 a month on rent totaling €670. This leaves me €40 a week to support myself. And I prefer going to Colruyt to more expensive supermarkets like Delhaize. We feel the inflation from all sides.»
Nevertheless, Emma does not yet have to work to finance her studies. Jean-Charles is forced to do so, but not too much to avoid losing the €923.12 of his Social Inclusion Income (RIS, the equivalent of the RSA) granted by the Public Center for Social Action (CPAS). Fortunately, it benefits from the social tariff for energy. “But we are at a turning point notes Jean-Charles. I know many students who are forced to do undeclared work for a few extra hours.»
The FEF estimates that nearly 100,000 French-speaking students are in precarious circumstances. Along with its Dutch-language equivalent, the VVS, he is calling for five demands on accommodation, transport (people over 24 from €12 to €499 per year), crockery at €1, premises open in winter and an extension of the social Criteria for Study Grants. But for Emila Hoxhaj, housing remains the priority: “ The owners passed on the indexing. The situation is certainly difficult for everyone, but some make profits on the students.»
India: Bottled water from the Ganges spring and delivered to your home
The EU freezes the reform of the Energy Charter, which is said to be too protective against fossil fuels
Gas: Qatar and China sign historic 27-year deal
Read more on this topic/topics: