LIMASSOL – “The crisis cannot be used as an excuse to reduce spending on higher education,” this was the main conclusion of the around 150 participants at the bi-annual European Students’ Convention from the European Students’ Union (ESU). The student leaders, who met in Limassol (Cyprus) concluded that governments need to recognise the role that education plays in providing opportunities for its citizens.
Karina Ufert, ESU Chairperson said: “No economy in Europe will develop without qualified graduates. Governments need to put money where their mouths are and invest in higher education rather than cutting down on it.”
The meeting furthermore celebrated the 30th anniversary of ESU with many ESU alumni –former delegates from the ESU members (national unions of students) and former ESU elected representatives – joining in the celebrations while discussing the differences between past and current challenges in higher education.
The students discussed the crisis, austerity measures and their impact on students and higher education as well as the employability of graduates. The delegates were furthermore consulted on the ESU project dubbed SAGE, which focuses on young graduates employability. They discussed current challenges that higher education, students and young graduates face against the backdrop of a growing youth unemployment rates.
Participants were of the opinion that generic skills equip graduates better and that learning specific skills should take place in the workplace. Ufert concluded: “Graduates need to be able to adapt to the changing needs of society. To achieve this, diverse learning and teaching methods should be embraced and developed. Governments should offer schemes to help support graduates and young people who cannot find work.”
The overall outcomes of the SAGE project will be followed up with the research activities conducted within the SAGE project. http://www.esu-online.org/projects/current/sage/