BRUSSELS – Around 150 people, of which most were representing national unions of students in Europe, gathered in Brussels from 19-21 March to debate the multi-layered meaning of employability, student participation in decision-making and the role of the European Union with key policy-makers and other stakeholders in higher education.
The results of the research project Student Advancement of Graduate Employability (SAGE), run by the European Students’ Union (ESU), were presented during the first day. The outcomes of this project will among other materials be used to make recommendations on employability that will be discussed at the upcoming Board Meeting of ESU in April.
The SAGE project found that students consider soft skills and non-formal education to be very important in the learning process in higher education. However, they think that those features are currently undervalued or unrecognised to a large extent in the higher education system. Many students also believe that employers undervalue education degrees in general and are pessimistic towards finding a meaningful employment following their graduation.
This project highlighted the importance of strengthening student-centred learning further and the continuing development of learning outcomes and peer learning assessment methods.
The relationship between employability and various aspects of higher education were also discussed, such as quality assurance and enhancement, the social dimension, student representation in policy-making processes and teaching and learning methods.
Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, EU Member States, the European Economic and Social Committee and stakeholder organisations in higher education joined this event and welcomed the findings of SAGE as well as other parts of the discussions.
The convention concluded that higher education is about much more than just employability of graduates and should prepare people for an active citizenship and a lifelong career, which is not limited to first employment. Employment measures and the higher education system should also give individuals a set of skills that enables them to transfer their knowledge and abilities easily. In other words, people should be prepared to adapt easily to a rapidly changing environment.
Students were also able to have their say on the proposal for a EU Youth Guarantee, the new framework programme for education and youth Erasmus+, the Modernisation Agenda for Higher Education, the European elections in May and the crisis in Ukraine.
“This event was used to bring the voice of European students even closer to the policy-makers on the European level and we were extremely happy with the results and participation. We agreed that more must be done for students to be fully involved in these processes as equal partners. We are grateful to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Norway House for their support and hosting this event,” says Rok Primozic, Chairperson of ESU.
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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.