Ukrainian student union Direct Action is back

Good news for Ukrainian students. The student struggle union Direct Action (Pryama diya) is back. After several years of absence, it has been present in recent months during the mobilisation of students in Lviv against the closure of their printing academy. This revival in the midst of war is a testament to the will of Ukrainian students to defend their rights against the neo-liberal policies of the Ukrainian government, students who are largely involved in anti-imperialist resistance to Russian aggression. It is up to the international student trade union movement to support them.

Patrick Le Tréhondat


Direct Action: Why is a student union more relevant than ever?

In these difficult months of war, when we students are now separated not by the walls of our classrooms but by the borders of our regions and countries, when many of us have had to find shelter in unfamiliar cities and every possible means to continue our studies, and when it has become much more difficult to unite and help each other, the independent student union Direct Action is resuming active work.

We strive to create a pan-Ukrainian space for cooperation, mutual assistance and solidarity among students, in order to facilitate the educational process for all concerned. It is important for us to create safe living conditions for vulnerable groups in the educational environment, to support students who have remained on the frontline or in other dangerous areas, and to help displaced students to adapt in the new cities.

Moreover, all the dangers that existed before 24 February 2022 remain: abuse of power by university administrations, discrimination, corruption, hostile actions by the Ministry of Education and Science towards students, demands for additional or excessive fees, etc. In recent months, as a result of these threats, social tensions among students have given rise to several protest campaigns, the most prominent of which were the peaceful action of students of the Ukrainian Academy of Printing against the reorganisation of the university and the Students UA movement, which fights for the right of Ukrainian students at foreign universities to travel abroad.

Direct Action activists participated in both campaigns.

We believe that due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, on the one hand, and the neo- liberal and market fundamentalist policy of the Ukrainian authorities, on the other hand, the social situation of students will get worse and worse. At the same time, the largest existing Ukrainian student movements turn a blind eye to the social component of the education problem and support the privatisation, commercialisation and 'optimisation' of higher education in the name of abstract efficiency. At the same time, they do not understand why a similar course in Western Europe over the past thirty years has consistently led to large-scale protests in higher education (often with the enthusiasm of the teaching bodies). Direct Action is based on the principles of solidarity with oppressed and exploited groups. In terms of international cooperation, Direct Action has joined Youth 4 Ukrainian Resistance, a youth network supporting Ukrainian resistance to the Russian occupation, which includes youth and student organisations from Poland, the UK, Spain, Brazil and Belgium. We believe that the success of Ukrainian student movements depends on solidarity, communication and coordination between the participants of these movements, and Direct Action offers such a space to any student who shares our main principles:

Anti-capitalism: we fight against the commercialisation of education and science, we oppose the transformation of knowledge into a commodity and its possession into a privilege. In particular, we support the idea of free access to scientific documents.

For us, anti-capitalist education is an education that promotes the overall creative development of the individual, rather than locking human beings into the cumbersome and impersonal machinery of capital.

Gender equality: we strive to provide equal opportunities for development and expression for male and female representatives of all genders within the organisation, to create an environment that is conducive to experimenting or even abandoning their gender identity. Through our activities, we try to popularise this discourse in society.

Green education: We advocate education that encourages an ethical attitude towards the environment. For the creation of safe spaces for nature, students and all those involved in the work of the educational institution. Anti-discrimination: we are against discrimination on the basis of class, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, region of origin, health and social status.

Why do you need a students' union?

Solidarity: when faced with injustice at your university or in difficult circumstances, you can count on other union members to help you, wherever they are in the world. Political self-development: realising one's passion for political struggle and defending one's rights by designing political campaigns, organising trade union sections, etc.

Media management and communication skills: a field of experimentation and practice in events, public relations, social networks, writing articles, reporting and interviewing, public speaking, debates, etc. Direct participation in media work will help you to cover global and local issues without any obstacles and to effectively fight an information battle against the arbitrariness of university administrations. Like-minded people: a circle of like-minded people, minimum bureaucracy, informal communication and team building.

If you are a student in a higher education or vocational institution, don't waste time - join the Direct Action union!