Next year, ESU will work to reverse the severe cuts in higher education budgets across Europe.
ESU Chairperson Bert Vandenkendelaere said: “The first ten years of this century have seen the amount of funding per student decrease in many countries, often for the first time in decades.
“This decrease has often been replaced by the introduction or increase of tuition fees. These fees have not filled the funding gap, but they have made it more difficult for people to participate in and complete higher education.”
In an ESU survey conducted in the autumn of 2009, national student unions from 12 countries reported that budget cuts had produced an added financial burden on students and their families. In October this year, ESU started a project called “Financing the Students’ Future”. One of the project aims is to compare European funding systems in order to share best practices.
Vandenkendelaere said: ”In the last weeks as well as the last year, we have seen large student protests against funding cuts in Austria, Italy, Ireland and most recently in the United Kingdom. It is high time that governments stop seeing education as an unwelcome expense. They should not forget that education is the key to development and welfare in any modern society and that the returns for their community are far higher than the cost of educating their citizens.”
At ESU’s 59th Board Meeting on November 3-5, the national unions of students in Europe adopted ESU’s plan of work for 2011. The plan outlines financing as well as other priorities, such as working on indicators for the social dimension of higher education, developing a student quality concept for higher education, and promoting a European student mobility treaty.
Read the whole plan of work for ESU in 2011 here.