european students’ union

Plan of Work 2019/2020

May 20, 2019

ESU adopted its Plan of Work 2019/2020 during the Board Meeting 76 in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The duration of this plan of work will be from July 2019 until June 2020. 

ESU will continue to concentrate on executing advocacy with a clear strategy and goals further explained in this document and policy documents. You can download the full Plan of Work here.

Collective Priorities for ESU:

A. Mental health charter

Write a Wellbeing Charter addressing mental health and students’ wellbeing in general to serve all NUSs both as lobbying strategy and a basis to develop their own charters/policy papers/strategies.

B. BFUG Social Dimension Advisory Group

Strive to finalise the Principles and Guidelines set out in the terms of reference of the group as well as try to merge the outcomes of the AG with the future of BFUG post 2020.

C. Review the Social Dimension

Evaluate and reformulate the current ESU policy paper on the Social Dimension.

D. Student-centered learning and teaching

Take all opportunities to advocate for a genuine implementation of student-centered learning, including working on the policy recommendations of the BFUG Learning and Teaching Advisory Group.

E. Genuine implementation of the key Bologna commitments

Contribute to the Bologna Peer Support Groups through engaging proactively with members to share best practices, and to give relevant input to the countries; participating in projects supporting the implementation, advocacy for student-centered implementation of the commitments.

F. The discourse on employability

Influence the discussions on “employability” whenever possible in accordance with ESU’s opinions on employability defined in the policy paper on quality of higher education.

G. Student ownership of intellectual property

Establish contact with stakeholders, e.g. WIPO. Focus on lobbying for fair and proportional students’ ownership of their intellectual property.

H. Advancements in fighting commodification

Produce a functional overview of the situation of tuition fees for international students and other methods of charging international students differently from domestic students.

I.  Global dialogue on education

Create contact between ESU’s members and the national and regional coalitions of the Global Campaign for Education to strengthen the members’ capacity to impact national and international education agendas.

J. Widening participation/access to mobility – follow up on Erasmus programme past 2021

Continue to fight for a fair and accessible Erasmus programme and work towards the inclusion of student views on equality, accessibility and fair grants when working with the implementation process of Erasmus programme. Special attention will be paid to creating the Erasmus programme 2021-2027 following the passing of new Erasmus regulation in 2019. ESU should advocate for the inclusion of all EHEA countries into the Erasmus+ programme.

K. Digital tools and Digital Tools

Push forward the digitalisation agenda in the Bologna Process. Track and actively participate in discussions on digital internationalisation tools and activities in accordance with the ESU’s policy.

L. Financial Accessibility and Hosting of Events

Seek to reduce the financial burden of ESCs and BMs on ESU’s members. This will include following-up with established Working Groups to create updated guidelines on event hosting which maximise financial viability, both for host NUSs and for other members which will need to pay participation fees.

M. Capacity building of the membership

Support Capacity Building of members through Reassessment of Membership processes and Membership and Capacity Building sessions at ESU events.

N. Road to Rome 2020

Ensure successful lobbying at the Ministerial Conference in 2020, ESU will publish both the Bologna With Student Eyes Publication 2020, as well as a Bologna Black Book and create an internal lobby plan for the Bologna until 2020. Following the work on the Principles and Guidelines that is currently ongoing within the Advisory Group on Social Dimension, ESU will lobby to make the Social Dimension the fourth key priority of the Bologna Process, thus ensuring effective implementation of the PAGs.

O. Strategy for the next decade

Engage members into a discussion on the vision for the organisation for the upcoming decade 2020-2030. The result of the discussion should include an analysis of the potential end of the Bologna Process, new policy goals, representations of new groups of learners, and development of the internal structures.  

P. Gather tangible expertise from ‘Together Moving Forward’ programme

Use an inter-cluster approach, the ‘Together Moving Forward’ Task Force will analyze and evaluate TMF project interim and final reports to extrapolate tangible, best practice guidelines not only for the benefit of future projects but also to offer a basis for ESU’s future advocacy work on refugees and social inclusion within EHEA communities.

Q. Climate Change

ESU will work to define its role in the fight against climate change, as well as what actions can ESU take in that area. In a way it should be recognized that climate justice and social justice are interlinked and should not be seen as separate. Furthermore, ESU will analyse the possibilities of finding new resources to ensure that this area of work takes a role in the organisation. ESU will evaluate the possibility of joining the global student-led organisation Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) or other similar organisations or campaigns.

1. Social Dimension

1.1. Mental health

  • ESU should collect good practices and approaches on how to develop/organize/implement services in HEI institutions to provide access to mental health services. This includes the collection of best practices at different levels (such as HEI structures, national legislation, etc) that prevent students’ deterioration of mental wellbeing.
  • ESU should collaborate with other youth organizations in order to apply for project funding regarding students’ mental wellbeing to provide possible financial support also for NUS`s to implement or organize projects on this topic.

1.2. Refugees passport

  • ESU will help promote and support the Refugees passport as one universal tool to make the process of recognition of prior learning for refugees easier and quicker. ESU should also look into manners of supporting NUSs when lobbying for implementation of Refugee passport on the national level.

1.3. Interlinking SDGs

  • ESU will continue working on SDGs and the interlinkages amongst them, keeping SDG4 at the centre of its work. Furthermore ESU will make use of infographics to highlight and promote the importance of interlinkages between the SDGs and policy recommendations centred on the role of higher education in attaining sustainability.

1.4. Single entity for holistic data collection  

  • ESU will  lobby with stakeholders to work on attaining a single point of data collection across the EHEA countries to enable proper analysis in the field of data collection. ESU will also push forward the importance of collecting micro-data, crucial to the improvement of the social dimension in HE.

1.5. Human Rights and Solidarity

1.5.1. Addressing solidarity requests

  • Strive to show solidarity with its member unions and relevant stakeholders facing breaches to human rights in the context of higher education. Procedures such as but not limited to research on relevance of topic to ESU policies, possible internal/external controversies and input from any relevant stakeholders will be used.

1.5.2. Enhance awareness on human rights and solidarity

  • Evaluate and review the Human Rights and Solidarity Strategy in terms of ESU ethics, NUSes responsibilities and human rights advocacy work.
  • ESU will adopt new methods for enhancing awareness on human rights, in accordance to ESU policies, strategies, resolutions, etc. Content from the work of the Together Moving Forward Task Force will also but not merely be incorporated into this work. Furthermore, particular campaign work in the run up to key international dates such as World Refugee Day, and International Students Day can be used as a tool in improving ESU’s work in this regard.
  • Furthermore, ESU should keep strengthening its networks concerning the field through attendance/participation in events pertaining to the field of human rights and solidarity while looking to create partnerships/ collaborations with organisations promoting human rights education

1.6. Communication of the ‘Together Moving Forward’ programme

  • ESU should look into the internal and external communication tools/strategies for TMF in order to ensure that as the project grows bigger and gains more exposure, communication of this project is also effective and efficient. It is important to evaluate new ways of ensuring this (such as through website) in order to equip TMF with the best tools for communication.  

1.7. Student Housing

  • ESU will work on policy measures linked to students housing, such as the quality of living conditions, the quantity of available housing, and the cost to students, and incorporate these into its existing policy framework.
  • We will intensify efforts to fight against discrimination in the housing market, with a special focus on accessible & feasible facilities adapted to the needs of disabled students and lobby towards more inclusive students housing by interlinking ESUs work with European stakeholders such as the European disability forum and the European academic network of disability experts.

1.8. Student Transport

  • ESU will work on a coherent set of policy measures linked to transport & sustainable public mobility and incorporate them into the existing policy framework. We will raise awareness for the need of accessible & safe routes for students to take up sustainable models of transport.

1.9. National Access Plans

  • ESU will make use of the BFUG Advisory Group on Social Dimension to lobby for national access plans to be incorporated into the principles and guidelines on social dimension.
  • ESU should hold capacity building sessions on national access plans to foster knowledge exchange and coordinate NUS lobby efforts towards the creation and implementation of coherent national strategies on social dimension.

1.10. Social Inclusion

  • ESU will work on accessibility in terms of access, transition and completion within higher education institutions, fostering understanding of retention, attainment issues and student success, and should get involved in projects and events engaging with these topics, such as the INVITED + Project.

1.11. Inclusivity of the movement

  • ESU will continue advocating for an inclusive higher education and should work on addressing acts of discrimination within its movement. ESU will continue raising awareness within the movement and to build capacity about allyship and against discriminative behaviours.
  • ESU will propose actions to enhance the inclusivity within the organisation, and will work towards implementing these recommendations.
  • ESU will hold gender sessions during each event, and will aim to promote equality from an intersectional perspective.
  • During internal events ESU will organise Women’s meetings, which are open for non-male participants and parallel sessions for all participants in order to discuss the gender perspectives in higher education.

1.12. Offer capacity building for NUS especially on the Social Dimension of Higher Education

  • ESU should hold capacity building sessions during ESU events in order to empower NUSs with knowledge, skills and competences that support lobby efforts for the implementation of the social dimension within Bologna. Furthermore, ESU will provide training and tools to its members for combating anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination in academia and campuses

2. Public Responsibility, Financing and Governance

2.1. Student ownership of intellectual property

  • ESU should do capacity building on intellectual property, providing user-friendly information on the subject to NUSes.

2.2. Advancements in fighting commodification

  • ESU should keep a critical eye on current policy updates on commodification and financing of higher education. Actively disseminate ESU’s opinion on this matter in media and at all relevant events.
  • ESU can collect training methods on how students can work with the topic of commodification for further debate in student communities, including trainings with emphasis on various outcomes of commodification’s effects in higher education.
  • ESU should create a handbook for local and national student unions with analysed survey data on commodification. Provide research if commodification tendencies decrease the presence of democratic citizenship education.
  • ESU should continue to advocate for accessible and sustainably funded education, highlighting the use of tuition fees as an unsustainable and unfair method for funding education systems.

2.3. Democratic citizenship education

  • At relevant external events, ESU can continue to actively and strategically push the importance of the multiple purposes of higher education.
  • ESU should develop recommendations on what students can do to promote democratic citizenship education and to collaborate with academic staff in order to implement the concept of democratic citizenship education in their educational process.

3. Internationalisation & Mobility

3.1. Global student movement

  • ESU should engage in a permanent discussion around barriers and challenges that public systems face regarding youth rights to education at all levels, and the opportunities to contribute to the advancement of free, inclusive, quality education systems.
  • ESU can suggest to the GCE Board, as well as to the entire GCE membership, the key approaches the movement should follow regarding the engagement and meaningful participation of youth-led and student-led organizations, as well as young people themselves, including those with disabilities. Given global historical and current inequalities, ESU will work so that student and youth involvement in GCE involves all regions around the globe equally. Propose to the GCE Board strategic youth-related plans on policy, advocacy, research, campaigns and networking
  • ESU should play a key role in developing the GCE youth constituency, mobilising the youth voice within GCE and develop clear political statements and strategies for advocacy.

3.2. Widening participation/access to mobility – follow up on Erasmus, programme past 2021

  • ESU will demand setting accessibility as a prerequisite for being considered a full Erasmus university in all Erasmus partner countries.
  • ESU sets an internal lobby plan leading up to the creation and implementation of the new Erasmus cycle in 2028.
  • ESU can support members in their goals when attending meetings with representatives of National Agencies of Erasmus, focusing on student presence in all phases of the implementation of Erasmus+ programme.
  • ESU should gather good practices on inclusion on social dimension in mobility.
  • ESU may address HEIs to avoid replacing student mobility with online education activities. Funding for online international education activities cannot be taken from physical mobility.  
  • ESU continues to lobby for increased funding for the Erasmus programme and the funds need to be directed first and foremost to student mobility and not higher education institutions themselves, for example the European University Alliances.
  • ESU actively opposes the use of Erasmus programme funding for the creation of the European student card.

3.3. Recognition of prior learning abroad

  • ESU can continue to push for better recognition of learning outcomes achieved abroad as well as at home. This will be done by promoting better implementation of the ECTS Users’ Guide and monitoring of the link between ECTS and learning outcomes, as well as by participating in the Lifelong Learning Platform working group on Validation of Prior Learning.

4. Quality of education

4.1. Learning and Teaching

  • ESU will utilise its role on the Learning and Teaching Advisory Group to advocate for a focus on the quality of the learning process, including a better and more transparent use of Learning Outcomes across all Bologna countries.
  • ESU will also bring attention of stakeholders to the fact that the application of ESGs cannot focus solely on quality procedures, but must also seek to enhance the learning environment through student partnership and innovation in teaching practices.

4.2. Rankings and multirank

  • Should work against the perception of rankings as a valid measure of quality. Meanwhile, ESU will participate in shaping the content of those rankings we are able to influence (currently U Multirank and a new SDG ranking by Times Higher Education).

4.3. European Universities Networks

  • Will follow the developments of the European Universities networks closely and try to influence them in accordance with the positions of ESU on the matter.
  • ESU should get involved in the discussions on the calls for applicants to influence the criteria, emphasising the importance of, for instance inclusivity, regional balance, physical mobility, sustainability, students involvement in the design of the call and in the decision making bodies of the alliances and the upward convergence of rights of the students within each alliance, and challenging the Commission’s perception of “excellence”.

4.4. Europass

  • Should advocate for the user-friendliness of Europass making sure that students’ feedback is included in the development phase of the platform.ESU will put forward priorities for data protection of Europass users.

4.5. QA pool and SCL reviews

  • ESU will develop a clear vision about the long-term scope and goals of the student expert QA pool. Accordingly, it will refine the QA pool members’ training and establish cooperations with new QA agencies.
  • Aim to create a network of student-expert QA pools and will promote the concept of student-run QA pools as a successful tool for encouraging student participation. ESU will map a possibility to establish a tool for the QA pool to review SCL at institutional level.  

4.6. EQF and recognition

  • Participate  in the EQF Advisory Group of European Commission making sure the decisions are not leaving out the recognition-related needs of students, such as recognition of prior learning, mobility periods, extracurricular activities, accessible and not bureaucratic procedures ESU will also advocate for mainstreaming of the recognition of non-formal and informal learning in the BFUG, CoE and through the Global Recognition Convention.

5. Organisational Development and Capacity Building

5.1. Membership Issues

5.1.1. Application of new ESU Members

  • ESU will revise the questionnaire for prospective applicants and provide a comprehensive guide for membership applications.

5.1.2. Capacity Building for ESU Members

  • ESU should continue to support the Pool of Trainers through projects and other opportunities to recruit and train trainers for member NUSs to access. Additionally ESU will extend and develop the role of the Pool of Trainers, alongside the QA Pool, to ensure these have strong strategic purpose and relevance to ESU’s wider work.
  • ESU will seek ways to learn from the reassessment process and to create new capacity building opportunities or resources for NUSes.

5.2. Internal Strategies and Structures

5.2.1. Financial Strategy 2019-2021

  • ESU will continue to implement the existing Financial Strategy, ensuring the financial strength and sustainability of the organisation as well as fair and transparent financial processes for ESU’s members.

5.2.2. Chairing of ESU Board Meetings

  • ESU should develop guidelines and supporting documents on Chairing of the Board Meetings, in line with existing Standing Orders and Statutes. These guidelines will be written in collaboration with past and present BM chairs, and will outline how chairs are recruited and selected, how chairs should be trained and supported for their role, and clarify points of interpretation in ESU’s rules of procedure or the Board Meeting.

5.2.3. ESU Code of Conduct

  • ESU should work with members to revise the Code of Conduct, in line with ESU’s statements on non-discrimination and the rights of under-represented communities. This revision will extend the role of the Code of Conduct beyond a disciplinary code for ESU events, seeking to outline ethical guidelines for elected and selected representatives of ESU encouraging them to exhibit the best values of the organisation.

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