Dual education in universities, a shortcut for labour exploitation of undergraduates?

Faculty of Philology, Belgrade; Photo: Dungodung / Wikimedia Commons

Serbian Ministry of education, science and technological development published a draft law on dual higher education model (DHE). By doing so, they effectively announced the possibility of future exploitation of undergraduate’s labour in line with the model which has already been implemented in secondary education.

The draft, which will be publicly debated until April 18, proposes undergraduates to spend at least 60 days a year working for an employer, while receiving a compensation of minimally half the salary of a worker hired for the same or similar job.

According to Radnik web portal, the work undergraduates will be engaged for is defined in the same way as the secondary school pupils’ labour in the Law on dual education, as “study through work”.

Such a definition of relations between the students and the employers would prevent the working undergraduates to enjoy their labour rights. Much like the secondary school pupils, undergraduates would not have the right to unionise or to receive contribution to their pensions and disability insurance.

The line Ministry uses the positive experience of other countries to justify the implementation of DHE in Serbia.

Though such experiences admittedly exist, there is also a body of research which shows that DHE rarely gives positive effects, as already discussed at Mašina.

Dual education has all of a sudden become the pet educational reform of the ruling elite, which is no wonder, given the compatibility of the model with the economy based on diminishing the price of labour.

Namely, the promoters of the allegedly successful concept omit the fact that it deepens the class differences between pupils and students.

You can read the draft law here. Further information on submitting objections here.

A.J.

Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić

This article was originally published in Serbian on Apr 16, 2019.

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