Author: Ermal Spahiu
The student card has not achieved its expectations since its release. In the last two years, students estimate that this card has not provided them with the service claimed by this tool. Contrary to what its concept envisages, they, through concrete observations and experiences in various businesses, have realized that the real function is far from the promises of the government to ease the monthly expenses. There are many young people who define the presentation of the student card as a failure, arguing that reductions in services have not affected their daily expenses. Based on this experience, students have given their answers, how they see the student card, three years after the presentation by the Municipality of Tirana and the Youth Agency.
“Currently an inefficient tool!”
“A tool that has only been used for propaganda.”
“In Albania it is not valid at all.”
“The student card does not offer the right expectations for students, at least in my city. That’s why many students do not get it. “
These are some of the answers of students in the survey conducted online , where the comments express the inadequacy of efficiency and poor function that this card has towards students.
Today, if you go to a business in the center of Tirana, it turns out that they do not have a policy to apply this card. Such businesses are mainly pharmacies, bookstores, eyewear stores, stationery and electronics stores, which are located in different areas of Tirana. Such data diminishes the interest of young people to use it, in order to benefit from a favorable discount, which can give them space to save on the economic base.
Hume Gjana, a second-year student in the Professional Master, explains that she was provided with the student card the last year of the Bachelor.
“The only service I have benefited from the student card is the student pass, which I received at a reduced price. The expectation has been much higher than that, as where a student needs more discounts, he has not benefited. It is worth mentioning the chancelleries and the various points of sale of the books. I expected it to have a wider reach to food canteens as well, since after all we are students. I would have expected a reduction in health services as well.”
Another student says that with the student card he gets a price discount on some services, which come with a notice in the student card application and are considered unnecessary for young people.
“The offers are limited in time and the discounts are not very big. It does not leave room for the student to choose, when it is necessary, but only when the offer is presented”.
Other reactions regarding the function of this tool have recently come from student activists, invited to the Ora News show to discuss the problems they face.
Ariela Zeneli says that the mayor, Erion Veliaj, has thought more about himself or about the people he cooperates with, whom he calls oligarchs: The services included in the student card are discount at a jewelry shop, car service, hoodie of one of the singers, with whom Veliaj collaborates. These are not services that benefit us, these are luxury services, which we do not even think to have. The things we look for in a student card are very basic. We request discounts on urban transport, for which we do not have a student pass (refers to some lines). Since the beginning of the pandemic the student pass is no longer given or, more precisely, given very rarely and available copies end record time. Also, we should have discounts on interurban transport, which means that all students, coming from the districts, should have the fee discount in their cities, where they want to go.
“Second, with the student card we want to have access to certain bookstores for the books we buy because they are many and they are required in the faculty. Discounts should also be on cafeterias. These are basic things that a student card does not meet. The student card does not include these, the services are totally ridiculous. Erion Veliaj offers services that are not at all related to the reality in which students live today,” – concludes Zeneli.
“It is mainly done for commercial reasons, for the benefit of the people, with whom Veliaj cooperates. The goal is to get benefits from the students, even though the latter, with a thousand problems, try to overcome the difficulties of “survival” in the city. Erion Veliaj again has the face and the courage to include in this “student card” these completely mediocre, unnecessary services, which do not benefit anyone”, – says Fjoralb Nezha.
Aurel Kujtimi, a student of Political Science and a student rights activist, sees the student card as an initiative of the Municipality of Tirana to make propaganda.
“I went shopping in the supermarket to try the card. When I went to pay at the cash register, I presented the student card and asked what percentage discount there was. I was told that “we do not recognize the student card and you have no discount”. It has served me for nothing, because it is a tool to understand Veliaj’s propaganda. It only served me to keep it in my wallet as a business card.”
How satisfied are the students currently with this tool?
Students’ experiences with the student card may have been quite negative, if we take into account how much the monthly budget has been eased compared to the period when this card was not functional. In an online survey conducted for the purpose of compiling this Article, which was submitted by about 57 students, most of them expressed great dissatisfaction with this experience with this important tool. According to them, this card has not yet given what was expected and claimed to the students. They judge this initiative of the Municipality of Tirana as a failed attempt to gain money and to lie to students.
74% of students surveyed said they are not at all satisfied with the services they receive from the student card. The main benefit is in the student transport subscription service, according to 46% of surveyed students. 50% of respondents said they benefited from discounts between 1% -5%.
What is the card used for today?
Described as an important tool for the student portfolio, this card has been implemented since May 2019. Its purpose was to facilitate the economic base of students in relation to the high costs incurred by the latter, starting with fees that go for studies, the cost of accommodation in dormitories or rented houses, the cost of daily consumption and those of public, urban transport. This facilitation is reflected only in the last service, where a student today, thanks to the student card, benefits a student transport pass with a reduction of 50% on the basic 1200 Lek price.
How much does a student spend in the capital without a student card?
In a study conducted by Qëndresa Qytetare for the student life of young people in the country, it appears that a student today in the center of Tirana without using this card spends approximately 324 euros per month, where 60% of this figure goes for accommodation. From this study it is noticed that 57.7% of students spend to buy office equipment approximately 10-20 euros, 18.5% of students, 20-50 euros and 4.3%, over 50 euros. In terms of accommodation and food expenses; 15.5% of students spend over 400 euros per month, 67.5% of them spend 150-400 euros, while 17% up to 150 euros per month.
Accommodation in the capital is one of the sacrifices of a student in Tirana. In addition to the difficulty of finding a rented house or boarding school, a student has to spend a minimum of 50-100 euro for his/her accommodation. According to this study, it appears that 24% of young people studying in the capital spend over 200 euros.
Food is another cost for students, who, in a calculation made by Qëndresa Qytetare, have to deduct from their economic base at least 1-3 euros per day. The highest figure for spending on food is estimated at over 7 euros.
Transport. Public transport is vital in the financial life of students who use the transport line to get to university, to return home or to go on holiday. On average, a student today pays 20-30 euros per month to use public transport, a cost that burdens their economic base. In this case, the student pass, which is obtained thanks to this card, serves as a relief for young people who travel without the obligation to pay the ticket on public transport lines in Tirana. The only lines that today continue not to apply this service are the urban transport lines Kamza and Vora.
Regarding the activity of this service, Rigels Xhemollari, executive director of Qëndresa Qytetare, sees the student card more as a business than as a necessary need for students: “Currently, the student card serves students only as a bus ticket or, more precisely, as an identification tool to obtain the student subscription, which was in force even before the production of the card.
The approach, applied by the Municipality of Tirana, has been more of a business than a tool that brings benefits to the student community; thus, they benefit as buyers or as consumers, not as students. “We cannot have financial facilities without having a dedicated compensation budget for bidders,” he said.
According to him, the discounts on the student card should be basic needs for students and the discounts on services, where entertainment is provided, have no impact on their expenses. He also mentions students studying in other cities and do not have such a document, saying that they should not be excluded from this national initiative.
“Services and products that should come to students with price reduction, should be related to their basic needs, starting from accommodation, food, clothing, literature or teaching aids. The discounts, which are linked to bar-cafes or beauty salons, do not affect the students’ wallet, so the student card initiative should first be a national initiative, not to exclude students from other districts, an initiative budgeted from the student, which responded to the real needs of students, not the interests of a mayor, the businesses he controls and the image of election campaigns, but as is the case in other European Union countries, which serve the basic needs of the student”, – concluded Xhemollari.
What does the student card offer?
The student card provides for students over 2000 (two thousand) public and private services. Currently, the administrators of this card are trying to expand the services sector and the Youth Agency is in ongoing negotiations with various entities to include them as part of the student card.
How many students have a student card?
The number of students who currently enjoy a student card is estimated to be over 70%, in a study conducted by Faktoje.al, but this number is seen as insufficient, as long as there are still students who do not have such a tool in their portfolios. Most students, who do not have this tool, are mainly in the first year of studies and claim that the student card is constantly postponed by the universities, which makes it impossible for them to withdraw it in a timely manner.
“Everyone should definitely obtain it!”
“It is a very good initiative, but in universities it has been postponed for two months as a procedure, especially for those of us who study in the first year.”
“All students should have a student card and through it we should benefit no matter how small the price reduction”, – are some of the answers of the students, who even today are facing the lack of a student card.
Where have students benefited and where do they want to benefit?
The reality offered by the student card is far from what is claimed by the students, who openly express their dissatisfaction with the services they have received during the period of using this card. The best discounted service is the student pass, where the survey shows 21 students who have benefited from a pass, while the other services are mainly bookstores, libraries, Leaf House and others.
Where do students want to benefit? What is the service they most need to benefit from discounts among many other daily expenses? In their answers there is a wide range of services, where students wish to benefit from discounts. Many services include: bookstores, chancelleries, public transport, tickets for trips abroad (mainly for studies), dormitories or rental houses, universities, internships and professional courses, markets, internet, health, food, bar-cafes, technological equipment (shops for smartphone etc.), shopping malls, museums, cinemas, businesses.
The Albanian student card, how far from Europe!
If we make a comparison between Albania and Europe in terms of how the student card works, of course in terms of quality and services provided we would say for a positive experience of foreign students, who have the opportunity to explore a wide range of offers, where they benefit from valuable discounts. In the list compiled by the European student card in Italy, services are noticed, which are missing in our card. In this card, the services, where an Italian student can benefit from discounts, start at the cinemas and end at the technological equipment. The same reality applies in Greece, where the student card has all the services that a student can use.