KAUNAS – International students should not be considered as a source of revenue but as a part of society and have access to necessary support systems, according to the over one hundred student representatives that participated in the European Students’ Convention from 20 to 22 September.
During the convention, the delegates of national unions of students drafted a declaration, reviewing a communication presented by the European Commission entitled “European Higher Education in the World”. This draft document will be officially presented at the upcoming board meeting of the European Students’ Union (ESU) in Zagreb, Croatia, from 25 November to 2 December.
The participants defined the fundamental role that education plays within societies and discussed whether that was reflected in the EU’s communication. The students pointed out several things that they would have liked to have seen done differently, but also praised a few elements that they believed to be positive.
Open educational resources and mobility
Several sessions were organised during the convention in relation to the communication, such as on massive online open courses, student mobility, quality assurance and the social dimension in the internationalisation of higher education. Students discussed their opinions on all these issues that were included in the document.
“I was very happy with the lively discussions we had both in sessions and online. This was the first time that the convention was broadcasted live on the internet and made visible to thousands of people that would otherwise have been unable to attend the event, but because they could interact with us online they also contributed to the debate. We are very grateful to LSS and their volunteers that made this possible,” says Rok Primozic, Chairperson of ESU.
An input to European policy-making processes
The students’ convention is organised every half a year. This time, it was held in the second largest city of Lithuania, Kaunas, in conjunction with Lithuania’s Presidency to the Council of the European Union. It was co-organised by ESU and the Lithuanian National Union of Students, LSS.
“This was a challenging event for us, though we believe it was a successful one. Equal access to mobility for all groups of students is the main topic to focus on, when we are dealing with internationalisation. Additionally, I am particularly happy with ESU’s ambition to run a campaign dedicated to the upcoming European Parliament elections,” says Paulius Baltokas, President of LSS.
The declaration drafted at the convention will lay-out students’ views on efforts to improve academic mobility both inside and outside of Europe.
“We urge European policymakers to take our opinions seriously into account when they continue their work on developing a policy for the internationalisation of higher education. Students are the main stakeholders in the process and should be recognised as such,” Primozic emphasises.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.