The right to study must not lie in the hands of the private sector
In an interview with Fanpage.it, MP Antonio Caso explained the content of a motion by the M5 that proposes concrete solutions to parliament and the government to combat high rents.
The deputy of the M5S Anthony case illustrates to Fanpage.it the content of an application on the subject high rent, which mainly affects the accommodation of external students, but not only. In the application there are some suggestions for solving the problem and concrete answers for the children who live in many cities there curtain protest. The M5 are first asking the government to refinance the annual fund to cover rental costs incurred by off-campus students, which the movement had funded and which the Meloni board has instead cut.
Caso is also urging the government to account for the announced but currently blocked Pnrr 660 million for student accommodation: the M5 fear this money will mostly benefit private entities, contradicting the aim of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which instead Structural and public funding should support. In fact, Antonio Caso recalls that “the right to study is guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be in the exclusive hands of individuals”.
The deputy Antonio Caso (M5s)
Tent protests continue in several cities. What can be done immediately to help students and families? Protesters said they would not stop unless they had specific answers first.
The high rents are suffocating thousands of students and we think it’s right that the protests don’t stop. To help them immediately, the government knows what to do: immediately and seriously refinance the annual fund to cover the rental costs incurred by foreign students. In 2021, the M5 financed the fund with 15 million euros, this government only provided 4 million euros in the last budget law.
What are you asking for with the motion you are debating today?
We are asking the government to make a decisive change with regard to the university. In order to tackle the problem, an inter-ministerial table should be set up immediately, in which the student representatives are also involved. In any case, it is necessary: to immediately refinance the fund for rent costs for foreigners, to increase funds for the construction of new university accommodation, to provide more money for scholarships also taking into account rent and utilities, to take structural measures to curb market rent, etc introduce a range of tax breaks for property owners in order to increase the supply of sleeping places, provided of course that the benefits of lower rents are passed on to students. These are the main points of the application.
How can everyone be guaranteed the right to study?
We need to invest in education again. We are the country in Europe that spends the least on education and universities, namely only 8% of the national budget. On the other hand, if we only focus on the university, we go down the drain. We only spend 0.6% of public spending. Several European countries even cheat us. And it’s easy to understand: the smaller the investments envisaged for the whole sector, the more impossible it will be to provide students with the tools they need for a proper education.
Chaos reigned over the amendment unblocking the 660 million already earmarked for student accommodation by the Pnrr, which was tabled and then withdrawn for inclusion in a omnibus decree. How do you rate the government’s reactions to the high rents so far?
Late and ineffective. The government waited until the emergency struck before attempting to address the issue. Still, they can’t say we didn’t warn them. Last November we submitted an interpellation asking for urgent action, but the minister told us everything was under control. And thank God we have to say. We sincerely joke about the little game that the amendment was first tabled and then withdrawn. Although it was an urgent intervention, they withdrew it since the matter had nothing to do with the law under discussion, after months of inserting changes in every kind of provision. A maneuver that arouses more than one suspicion and gives us certainty: at the time the 660 million were released, there was no trace.
The target of 60,000 spaces by 2026 can be seen in the high rents in Pnrr, with 8,000 already completed. Is it an achievable goal?
The analysis of the available elements so far raises serious doubts that the target set for December 2026 is achievable. Just look at the painstaking process, riddled with misinterpretations and course changes, to make the first 8,000 beds available that took nearly a year. The remaining 52,000 was to be “realized” with the 660 million just released, but as mentioned, the government got off to a bad start and announced an amendment to the PA Decree, only to reconsider and defer it to a later determination .
A census of properties to be converted into student housing has been announced. Minister Bernini said the public alone cannot do it, private individuals must be involved. Is that so?
We agree: one thing is sharing private student housing, another is creating “highways” for private profits with no real guarantee for students. Of the places already made available, about 75% of the total number are managed by private groups. Of the 287 million euros paid out so far, around 207 have ended up in the coffers of companies and private foundations, some of which already manage student accommodation with very high rents, which reach 800 euros in Milan and 900 euros in Venice.
The minister said the more the supply of student housing increases, the better the demand is met and the cost will come down. And the MUR will keep them below market prices. is this the way
Whenever the public fails to guarantee citizens benefits and services, the right (and others) prefer to resort to the simplest route: they rely on the private sector. The latter, of course, operates with the logic of profit maximization and sometimes puts the needs of students from families from the socio-economically weakest groups in the background. Moreover, even with the “tools” available, private operators estimate a reduction in prices per bed in the order of 10-15%. A discount rate insufficient to guarantee affordable rents due to the reality of many local property markets in university cities (primarily Milan). The right to study is guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be left exclusively to the private individual.