MALTA – Helge Schwitters from Norway has been elected as President of the European Students’ Union (ESU). Along with Helge, two Vice-Chairpersons, Adam Gajek (Poland) and Caroline Sundberg (Sweden) as well as seven Executive Committee members were also elected at the 72nd Board Meeting of ESU taking place in Malta, from 2 to 6 May.
For the positions of the seven Executive Committee members, the following student representatives were elected: Chiara Patricolo (Italy), Aleksandar Šušnjar (Croatia), Filip Prihoda (Czech Republic), Gohar Hovhannisyan (Armenia), João Pedro Estêvão Martins (Portugal), Katrina Koppel (Estonia), Yolanda Trujillo Adriá (Spain).
Over 100 delegates from 45 national unions of students from 38 countries participated in the meeting. The newly elected leadership will represent more than 15 million students in Europe. Their one year mandate will start on 1 July 2017.
Helge Schwitters was ESU’s Human Rights and Solidarity Coordinator for the past year. Prior to that role, he chaired the working group on post-2015 development goals and was a member of the International Cooperations Working Group. He has been involved in the student movement for many years both on a local, national and international level. Helge served also as the Officer for International Affairs for the National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) holding the position for two consecutive mandates. Among many other responsibilities he was the main political project manager for the “Global Student Voice” seminar and NSO’s advocate for the Students at Risk programme together with SAIH, an organisation he also was a board member of. In 2012/13 he sat as a member of the University board at his home university.
“As President, I will bring the approach of an idealistic realist. Believing firmly in the potential for social mobility and justice in higher education, it saddens me that this if often not the reality. We have to see all topics in higher education as one interconnected whole. A holistic approach implies advocating for the social dimension for the sake of quality in higher education, and vice versa. This is something I intend to do by breaking down superficial barriers between ESU’s clusters and always use an interdisciplinary approach, as we advocate for in our work on academic curricula.” says Helge Schwitters.
Background on ESU´s new Vice-Chairs
Adam Gajek was a member of the European Students’ Union’s Executive Committee 2016/2017. His main focus lies in the area of quality of higher education, with an emphasis given to quality assurance and prior learning recognition. He is a member of the ESU Quality Assurance Student Experts’ Pool and a student expert of the Polish Accreditation Committee. He has been engaged in the student movement for many years, formerly served as an International Officer of the Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (PSRP), and a head of the Audit Committee of the Students’ Union of the University of Warsaw.
Caroline Sundberg is president of the Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) until 30 June 2017. She is currently Member of Experts group in Gender Equality in Higher Education, Student Bologna Expert, Member of Bologna Experts Group, Member of Authority Board, Member of Experts group in Internationalisation of Higher Education and Member of BFUG Reference group. Between 2014-2015 she served as Vice President, Responsible for student welfare matters at Social Sciences Student Union at Lund University.