STRASBOURG – The European Students’ Union (ESU) was happy to contribute to debates on education and employability at the European Youth Event in Strasbourg, France, from 9 to 11 May. More than six thousand young people attended the event, where ESU was invited to speak in three sessions.
This was the first time such an event was organised by the European Parliament and the European Youth Forum. Rok Primozic, ESU’s Chairperson, Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares, ESU’s Vice-Chairperson, and Elin Blomqvist, Coordinator of ESU’s Vote For Education campaign, represented the organisation at the event.
Although ESU was happy to see how many young people took interest in this event, it was disappointed that not more decision makers and prospective Members of the European Parliament could be present. Taking into account the effort of gathering six thousand youth in a single place to speak about the future of Europe, it should have attracted more decision makers to the event.
”We were very impressed that the participants were so active and by the well prepared statements brought up at the event. This did not only apply to the big plenaries, but also the smaller discussions and workshops organised during those three days. The youth today is extremely knowledgeable and it is clear that young people want to be involved in discussions, because they have opinions that must be heard,” says Blomqvist.
Employability, MOOCs and the European elections
ESU’s Chairperson moderated a debate on how students could improve their employability, taking into account the outcomes of a recent research project organised by ESU called Student Advancement of Graduate Employability (SAGE). Former Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus students, employers and representatives of the European Commission discussed the impact of international experiences on students and the skills needed in the labour market.
Galán Palomares contributed to a debate on open educational resources and massive online open courses, where it was asked if they would give a new generation of students the opportunity to study at top universities. It was also asked what would be the advantages and disadvantages of these new digital initiatives.
Lastly, ESU co-organised a panel debate with the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) on the future of education in Europe. This gave both the organisations the opportunity to present and discuss their manifestos for the European elections with the participants. Among subjects discussed were issues such as the commodification of higher education, democratic participation, youth unemployment and early school leaving. Thomas Maes, Secretary General of YES, Frederico V. Potocnik, Deputy Secretary General of YEPP, and Gina Arvai, who is a candidate of the Green party in Luxembourg, were invited to the panel.
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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.