Fight against WTO and GATS influence over higher education will be one of the priorities for the global student movement in the coming years. This has been agreed by regional European, Asian, African, Arab, North American and Australian student umbrella organisations.
”The student community in Europe has long been concerned that constraints on the financing of higher education seriously threaten the quality of higher education programmes offered. This perception has been confirmed by student organisations from other continents”, says Ligia Deca, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU).
At the same time, the organisations stated their opposition to opening up higher education as a free market through processes such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).
”We oppose restricting access by imposing of tuition fees or increases in the levels of fees. Such developments are inevitable if governments continue with allowing for commodification of education while moving away from higher education as a public responsibility. There is a clear example to be found in the Australian higher education system, which perfectly portrays the downfalls of a commodified view on higher education and its missions”, says Deca.
Student organisations from across the world met in January 2009 to debate higher education and students rights before last year’s UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE). On January 13-15 they met for the third time in one year to debate more concrete steps forward for global student cooperation.
You can read the full Global Student Declaration from the January 2010 meeting on esu-online.org. See also articles about the global student meeting in January 2009 and the WCHE in July 2009.
For more information, please contact Ligia Deca, ESU Chairperson on phone +32473669892 / email [email protected] or ESU Communications Manager Olav Øye at phone +32495101879 / email [email protected]