The threat of widespread student protest action, started at Lodz University three weeks ago and subsequently backed by students at Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw, and other universities, has been largely defused by a series of notable government concessions unique within the Soviet bloc. They include:
* An end to compulsory courses in Marxism and the Russian language. Both now will be offered on an elective basis.
* A liberalized passport policy in which university deans may no longer veto a student's passport request because of bad marks.
* Paid voluntary service during vacations to replace obligatory manual work.
Special correspondent Eric Bourne reports that at the time of this writing only two issues delayed a final agreement between the students and the Polish government: The regime wants a reference to the party's "leading role" in the new independent student union's charter and a rule that student strikes may be called only on the basis of a nationwide student referendum.
Solidarity leader Lech Walesa has advised the students -- as he had earlier advised the farmers' union movement -- to "give the government a chance" to prove its sincerity in the 90-day strike morato rium.