Last week, on the 17th of November, students from all over the world united to celebrate the International Students’ Day! OBESSU has a very long history in defending school student rights and bringing forward initiatives that commemorate the struggles of many people for a free quality education. The International Students’ Day is one of these occasions.

Every year, we identify a hot relevant topic for students all over the globe. This year, we launched a Global Call for Action on Student Welfare, calling on decision-makers to ensure #access4all through secure and adequate economic, social and health welfare for the wellbeing of all students!

Brief history

On the 17th of November 1939, nine students were executed without trial in Prague, Czech Republic, after the mass demonstrations following Jan Opletal’s death. Students were demanding freedom from the Nazi regime. The 17th of November 1973 is also the day of a mass strike in the University of Athens, Greece, when some students were protesting via an independent radio station against the junta of the colonels. This action was repressed in the early hours of the 17th of November when an AMX30 tank crushed into the blocked polytechnic of Athens. Many of the students were severely injured during this repressive action. On the 17th of November 1989 protests once again took place in Prague. Students organised a peaceful demonstration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1939 events, and to demand freedom from the Communist regime. This demonstration is one of the events identified as leading to the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Considering that, in 2004 students from all over the world met in Mumbai, India, for the World Social Forum to call on the 17th of November as the International Students’ Day, to commemorate those students who have fought for their rights and freedom and to take action. The 17th of November is not yet an officially recognised day but it is indeed a very important bottom-up process for the student community all over the world.

International Students’ day 2016

Through this year’s campaign, OBESSU wanted to raise awareness on student welfare, with a particular focus on three different aspects: economic, social and health student welfare. The Global Call received the support of 25 international and national student and civil society organisations from several different countries (please find the entire list at the end of the Call).

Demonstrations, workshops, conferences, flash mob, online campaigns, social media activities and much more have been organised by students all over the world. Wondering what has been organised during the 17th of November? Check on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #InternationalStudentsDay, #17now, #access4all and #StudentWelfare.

Furthermore, on the International Students’ Day, OBESSU invited all its Member, Candidate and Affiliate Organisations to take part in a survey on Student Welfare. The aim of this questionnaire is to collect as much information as possible on the different situations that school students have to face on this matter nowadays in Europe. All the data and the outcomes will be included in a larger and comprehensive research work on Student Welfare that OBESSU is currently running.

For any question, please feel free to contact us at

Find more:
Download the Global Call for Action
History of the International Students’ Day