european students’ union

Plan of work 2018

January 19, 2018

The plan of work is created based on the strategic priorities adopted to years 2018-2020. In a need for prioritization during the year 2018, the opening statement in this plan of work is meant to guide the organisations work throughout the year.

In 2018, ESU will concentrate on executing advocacy with a clear strategy and goals further explained in this document and policy documents. ESU will actively provide information to NUSs about the current topics on higher education policy and social dimension in the EU and EHEA.

ESU will coordinate together with the NUSs to influence on the policies of the member states before the Bologna Ministerial Conference in May 2018 by actively using the Bologna with Students’ Eyes publication. The goal is to have ESUs priorities to be presented to the NUSs before the BFUG meeting so ESU and its members can come together on a joint message. Hence, the members would have the opportunity to advocate that message to its ministries and to have the student voice represented strongly. ESU will also start to create long term goals for conference in Rome 2020. ESU will focus especially on the fundamental values of student representation, academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

Download the full Plan of Work 2018 here.

A. Social Dimension

1.A Necessary reforms for increased access and inclusivity in Higher Education (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 1.a, 1.b, 1.c, 1.d)

As first steps towards a more inclusive Higher Education ESU will work towards elaborating on our own background knowledge and solutions. It will be especially crucial to start the development of measurable criteria for National Access Plans (NAPs), as seen and needed from the student perspective.

  • 1.A1 Desk research best practises on recognition procedures for increased inclusion of underrepresented groups in Higher Education.
  • 1.A2 Provide a fact sheet/infographic on the mobile student population to showcase the needed areas of focus for balanced and equal mobility.
  • 1.A3 Lobby for an Advisory- or Working Group in the next Bologna Cycle (2018-2020) with the Terms of Reference to develop a Social Dimension network for a EHEA coordinated support on the implementation of National Access Plans.
  • 1.A4 Draft measurable goals on implementation of NAPs that are recognised and experienced by students.
  • 1.A5 Get involved with movements countering the precarious financial situation of students and lobby for state-funded support systems for all students which ensure equitable access to higher education.
  • 1.A6 Apply for project funding regarding the issue of student mental health.
  • 1.A7 Gather best practices in fighting for affordable student housing in different countries.

2.A Co-creation through meaningful participation (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 2c)

In order to facilitate active student engagement and participation in their learning environment,   ESU will:

  • 2.A1 Examine the role of students as co-creators in the enhancement of teaching and learning, drawing on European-wide initiatives and practices at the national level.
  • 2.A2 Provide member unions with current state of affairs, as well as ESU advocacy plan, on a European level with the policies that affect students and student unions.

4.A Increase the value of multiple purposes of education! (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 4a)

ESU recognises that the lack of remuneration for unpaid internships or other work-based learning opportunities, limits the inclusion of students who do not have the financial ability to benefit from these experiences.

Although we believe that we cannot achieve change by ourselves, ESU will:

  • 4.A1 Develop a fact sheet on how equal rights, access to social welfare, and remuneration can be achieved from a student perspective, enabling ESU to support other stakeholders’ campaigns against unpaid internships, and for more supportive work-based learning/placement environments.
  • 4.A2 Promote the importance of quality internships and other work based learning as valuable tools for students to gain relevant experience within their field of studies.

5.A An inclusive European Students’ Union: equity in participation and contribution (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 5a, 5c)

Equity is one of the core values of ESU. The knowledge gained through our external work, partnerships and representation can be used within ESU to make us more inclusive and widen participation. ESU will:

  • 5.A1 Focus on internal capacity building on the concepts of solidarity and inclusion.

6.A Solidarity and Human rights

As an organization that focuses on students’ rights, ESU advocates that all the students, regardless of their background, have access to live in societies where their rights are being respected. This is why ESU will continue advocating for inclusive education and inclusive societies and will stand in solidarity against human rights violations that are taking place within the field of higher education, and beyond. ESU will:

  • 6.A1 Provide support when answering solidarity requests in cooperation with ESU Executive Committee.
  • 6.A2 Work on developing policy content as well as represent ESU in other topics pertaining to the field of Human Rights, according to what the Executive Committee mandates.
  • 6.A3 Provide information and create shared working spaced to support NUSs interested in the creation of local/regional Students at Risk schemes.
  • 6.A4 Ensure that all ESU activities are of a high ethical standard according to human rights.
  • 6.A5 Hold capacity building sessions at Executive Committee meetings or European Students’ Conventions on inclusion of minorities in Higher Education, including, but not limited to, the Roma.
  • 6.A6 Provide expertise on the topic of integration of refugees in Higher Education.

7.A Equality

ESU, as an organisation that promotes inclusion, human rights, the social dimension of education and widening participation, is committed to the equality of all students in higher education in Europe. Under the lead of the Equality Coordinator, ESU will work on:

  • 7.A1 Gender Mainstreaming Strategy Implementation
    • 7.A1.i Implement the work of Task Force on Women’s Representation to review the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy and recommend changes to it after consulting the NUS’s.
  • 7.A2 Building members capacity on gender and equality
    • 7.A2.i Attend and organise trainings in the field of equality, including developing and conducting gender sessions and sessions related to the area of equality during Board Meetings, European Student Conventions and Executive Committee meetings.
    • 7.A2.ii Give the task Force on Women’s’ representation a role in recommending workshops and co-facilitate such workshops.
    • 7.A2.iii Promote Intersectionality within the Gender Sessions.
  • 7.A3 Develop policy on issues of equity and equality in higher education and within ESU
    • 7.A3.i Consult the Task Force on Women’s Representation within the movement and Task Force on Inclusion of Students with Disabilities when the board is developing ESU’s policy and statements
    • 7.A3.ii Work to increase cooperation with partners and ESU associate members, such as IGLYO and the European Disability Forum.
  • 7.A4 Task Force and ESU Group support
    • 7.A4.i Establish a Task Force on inclusion of students with disabilities with the mandate of reviewing and updating internal ESU accessibility structures and external policy developments.
    • 7.A4.ii Continue to support the administration, work plan implementation and issues and recommendations of Task Force’s relating to the area of equality.
    • 7.A4.iii Facilitate spaces at ESU events for Women’s’ group and the network for LGBTQ+ people, and create workshops or activities that shape capacity building in these areas of work.

B. Public Responsibility, Governance and Financing of Higher Education

2.B Co-creation through meaningful participation (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 2a, 2c)

Students’ participation in higher education governance both increases the quality of decision making and contributes to student centred learning and this is a public responsibility to open up for. Capacity building is needed alongside advocacy efforts for making this become a reality in Europe. ESU will:

  • 2.B1 Hold capacity building at Student unions and universities building models and approaches for better student participation in decision making when being asked to do so. This includes empowerment of student activists to look behind structures of power in decision-making processes and tools to counter these power-structures.

3.B Innovative learning environment (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 3c, 3e)

ESU understands innovative learning environments as making use of new opportunities and finding new solutions to make higher education more accessible and increase quality. Making this happen is a governance issue, not merely pedagogic. ESU will:

  • 3.B1 Partner with networks and interest groups and expert’s bodies on Open Education Resources (OER) and participate at events to showcase student commitment to OER.
  • 3.B2. Develop a concept of Student Centred Learning in Open educational resources.
  • 3.B3. Keep a critical eye on the roll-out of the new copyright regime of the European Union.
  • 3.B4 Develop and share knowledge about the rights of students regarding privacy including but not limited to the General Data Protection Regulation.
  • 3.B5 Continue to demand free access to learning resources for all.

4.B Not only employability – upvalue multiple purposes! (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 4a, 4c, 4d, 4e)

Education is a public good. This fundament must be promoted at all times, supported by fighting against commodification and underlining the utmost importance of education’s multiple purposes. ESU also wants to clarify, how quality internships and other work based learning contribute to good learning, but can sometimes be misused.ESU will:

  • 4.B1 Start looking for partners and stakeholders to write on a students’ checklist for quality learning at the workplace. Use the  checklist as a basis for engaging in projects and with partners.
  • 4.B2 In collaboration with movements on countering false facts and new, build capacity on what students can do to become promoters of evidence based decision making.
  • 4.B3 Monitor commodification tendencies in the European Higher Education Area and addressing the effects commodification has on higher education at the ministerial conference in Paris and in the Bologna Follow up Group.
  • 4.B4 At all external events, actively and strategically push the importance of the multiple purposes of higher education.

5.B An inclusive European Students’ Union: equity in participation and contribution (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 5a, 5c)

Student participation fosters good governance and leads to better decision making. To inspire and empower students to campaign for their rightful chair in the meeting rooms, ESU will:

  • 5.B1. Make active use of ESU’s communication platforms to showcase good involvement of students and teachers in decision making bodies of HEIs.

C. Internationalisation and Mobility

1.C Necessary reforms for increased access and inclusivity in Higher Education (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 1a, 1b, 1c)

Students around Europe are not given the same chance to study abroad. We need to promote accessibility and equity in mobility programs as well as the recognition of learning when returning to the home institution. ESU will:

  • 1.C1 Gather information on the current situation of recognition of formal and non-formal learning after mobility periods and exchanges and synthesising the information
  • 1.C2 Lobby for funding within Erasmus+ for facilitated participation in mobility for students with disabilities.
  • 1.C3 Through contacts gained through ESU’s work with marginalized groups, along with ESU associate members, identify how to tackle obstacles faced marginalized groups in student mobility.
  • 1.C4 Include internships and work based learning credits in the future Erasmus+ mobility tool

3.C Innovative learning environment (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 3c, 3e)

As digitalization is becoming a widespread phenomenon, ESU have a role in ensuring that the digitalization of higher education is aimed at improving the study experience in HEIs across Europe. In order to provide the best possible input into our lobby for this goal, ESU must first look toward establishing the necessary contacts and vocabulary, after which further development of digitalization as a tool for internationalization and mobility at home can take place. ESU will:

  • 3.C1 Map the discourse and relevant stakeholders related to digitalization as a tool for mobility and internationalisation.

4.C Not only employability – upvalue multiple purposes! (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 4b, 4e)

Voluntary service should also be taken into account. ESU will work into ensure the quality of the voluntary programs on Erasmus + and the European Solidarity Corps. ESU will:

  • 4.C1 Follow developments within Erasmus+ and the work of the European Solidarity Corps, that promotes voluntary work.

5.C An inclusive European Students’ Union: equity in participation and contribution (Strategic priorities 2018-2020 5c)

ESU has increasingly become more engaged with the Sustainable development goals, and many of our unions are also involved in the implementation and the follow up of the SDGs. As the SDGs sets out international targets, but are mostly implemented nationally, unions should be enjoying the access and competencies ESU gains. ESU will:

  • 5.C1 Strengthen ESU and its members in their work with Sustainable Development Goals by creating an internal network.
  • 9.E4 Continue to engage in dialogue with student unions outside of Europe with the aim of staying informed of, and influencing relevant policies on a global level.

D. Quality of Higher Education

1.D Necessary reforms for increased access and inclusivity in Higher Education (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 1a)

Fair and transparent recognition of informal and non-formal learning facilitates access to higher education for a wide variety of underrepresented or vulnerable groups, especially those with prior experiences which can be used. ESU will:

  • 1.D1 Advocate for acknowledgement of recognition of informal and non-formal learning as a part of the educational process.

2.D Co-creation through meaningful participation (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 2a, 2c)

The need for students’ engagement at all levels of higher education should be properly recognized and ESU can assist to this both through providing its’ expertise as well as influencing external processes. Students’ involvement in QA processes is an efficient way to get engaged at the program level, which at the same time provides an opportunity to influence higher level reforms. ESU will:

  • 2.D1 Provide expertise on implementing the student-run QA experts’ pools.
  • 2.D2 Develop the capacities of students and NUSs for participation in higher education reforms through Peer Learning Activities and webinars.
  • 2.D3 Advocate for recognition of transparent procedures as one of the main purposes of quality assurance, by main stakeholders.
  • 2.D4 Contribute intensively on following-up the actions of EU Agenda for Higher Education in order to ensure results satisfying for students.

3.D Innovative learning environment (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e)

Student Centred Learning (SCL) needs to be a priority in innovation of education. The concept, developed by ESU, is formally recognised by HEIs and other stakeholders but we need to stress the importance of a full and proper implementation of SCL. Flexible study paths and recognition of Informal and non-formal learning should impact the implementation of SCL in a positive direction, while quality assurance processes need to be developed as transparent and fit-for-purpose in the area of SCL. ESU will:

  • 3.D1 Advocate on ESUs partner stakeholders for making recognition of informal and non-formal learning in education, including students’ extra curriculum activities one of their priorities.
  • 3.D2 Develop guidelines on learning outcomes in non-formal and informal learning.
  • 3.D3 Support the shift towards prioritising the quality of learning and teaching rather than procedures, by advocating for competencies based quality assessment including language, pedagogical and didactical competes, and constant personal development of teachers.
  • 3.D4 Integrate the peer assessment based on the SCL concept to the procedures of the QA pool.
  • 3.D5 Develop a proposal of indicators for analysis of the prerequisites and conditions for the implementation of SCL, which can to be used in the Monitoring of Bologna.
  • 3.D6 Map the possibility to establish a Bologna Advisory Group  on implementation of SCL.
  • 3.D7 Develop means of useful application of EQAR’s database for students.
  • 3.D8 Map the discourse and stakeholders for acknowledgment of OER as an important support for learning process.

4.D Not only employability – upvalue multiple purposes! (Strategic priorities 2018-2020: 4d). Combatting the increased power of Rankings in the development of HE policy we need to stress the multiple purposes of HE and show that the rankings do not accurately represent quality ESU will:

  • 4.D1 Counter the perception of rankings as a valid demonstration of quality in HE.

E. Organisational Development and Capacity Building

5.E An inclusive European Students’ Union: equity in participation and contribution (Strategic Priorities 2018-2020, 5)
In order to make ESU more inclusive as the strategic priority states, some steps will need to be taken year, by year. As for the first year, ESU will:

  • 5.E1 Hold open organising sessions hosted by NUSs and use ESU information channels to actively promote good examples of NUS work and achievements.
  • 5.E2 Together with the hosts of ESU internal events, whenever possible make arrangements for recording sessions held at ESU events, when permitted by the contributor(s).
  • 5.E3 Develop a sustainable platform for sharing information between face to face meetings of the organisation, to be used for inter-NUS collaboration and ESU interaction with the membership.
  • 5.E4 Focus on project applications that will enable financial cover for ESU events, so that the events are more accessible to all NUS’s.
  • 5.E5 Create a portfolio of graphic and simplified overviews of ESU’s policies and concepts.
  • 5.E6 Re-view ESUs financial solidarity structures.
  • 5.E7 Introduce online reporting tools for harassment cases in all ESU events
  • 5.E8 Starting a discussion on ESU’s election system with the objective of making it more transparent and encouraging. This includes finding a non binary gender quota system that is more inclusive.

8.E Membership

Following the successful adoption of ESU’s Membership Strategy at BM72, the implementation of this strategy includes the following specific tasks in relation to the assessment of Members against the membership criteria.

  • 8.E1 The 5-year cycle of reassessment will be begun following BM73, with the first batch of unions reporting in time for BM74 and BM75.
  • 8.E2 The Membership Coordinator will continue to lead on creating practical arrangements for the Reassessments (including order of reassessments, deadlines, and guidelines for the relevant documents) with the agreement of the EC.
  • 8.E3 Produce a Study Visit Handbook, outlining guidelines and good practice for conducting Study Visits of NUSs, which will be presented to the Board at BM74.

9.E Internal strategies and structures

Internal strategies and structures shall be put in place in order to assure the smooth internal proceedings between Presidency, EC members, Coordinators and staff.

  • 9.E1 Produce and publish a “Bologna with Student Eyes 2018”.
  • 9.E2 Clear ESU stance on the Fundamental values of the Bologna process.
  • 9.E3 Develop a set of Bologna policy aims towards the ministerial meeting in Rome, to be presented at the Board Meeting 75 in Montenegro.
  • 9.E5 Work to facilitate information sharing and coordinate advocacy work related to BFUG meetings and in general on EHEA/BFUG topics. This includes supporting unions to be involved in the national agenda setting.
  • 9.E6 Support member NUSs in their engagement in EU educational policies by cyclic information about development of ESU policies, involving in the consultations and put them in contact with EU institutions when interested.
  • 9.E7 Prioritise the aims lined out in the financial strategy, such as neat financial management and decreasing debts towards ESU.

10.E Capacity building

Capacity Building for member NUSs is a core component of the Membership Strategy adopted at BM72, and a key role that ESU plays in strengthening the student movement.

  • 10.E1 Pool of Trainers: ESU will continue to seek opportunities for externally funded projects to support the activity of the Pool of Trainers.
  • 10.E2 The Membership Coordinator will also work with the trainers to identify their areas of expertise in relation to aspects of ESU’s Criteria for Membership, and include this in all promotion of the trainers’ pool.
  • 10.E3 The Pool of Trainers will additionally be promoted through the Reassessment of Members process and the regular Membership and Capacity Building Sessions.
  • 10.E4 The Membership Coordinator will lead on developing a Competencies Framework based on the organisational competencies indicated by ESU’s Criteria for Membership. This framework will be filled in detail with information from the Self Assessments which NUSs submit as part of their report when undergoing reassessment.
  • 10.E5 ESU will hold regular Membership and Capacity Building Sessions at ESCs and BM Seminars to include the Board in implementing the above practices.

11E.Working conditions

Our organization should take a hard look at how we treat our own people. And provide more insights on the functioning of the Hacks team and staff. Working conditions and renumeration are not what they should be and should be evaluated, considering the workload.

  • 11.E1. A task force will be formed of no more than five people to evaluate all remuneration, benefits and work load distribution of the presidency, the EC and the coordinators. They will write a report including, but not limited to the following aspects:

– Fairness

– Living and working conditions

– Compatibility with ESU values

– Task distribution

– Workload

–  Offering health insurance, other benefits and contributions

The people on the taskforce are trusted people and are not allowed to call out names and share personal information they have gathered to member of the Hacksteam or Board, to ensure total confidentiality. Members of the task force can of course share information between them

The taskforce will deliver the report suggesting concrete measures to the board by BM 75 and consult the board on ESC 36.

Annex: ESU’s current projects

1) Abbreviation: EFFECT

Name: European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching

Year in the cycle:

Main actions:

Feasibility study on European Academy for Learning and Teaching, writing European Principles of Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

2) Abbreviation: EQUIP

Name: Enhancing Quality through Innovative Policy & Practice

Year in the cycle: 3rd final

Main actions:

Contributing to the Policy impact study

Disseminating the outcomes

3) Abbreviation: DEQAR

Name: Database of External Quality Assurance Results

Year in the cycle: 1st  ( Launching on November 2017)

Main actions:

Involved in ensuring relevance of the database and links with the end users (students’ perspective)

4) Abbreviation: LIREQA

Name: Linking Academic Recognition and Quality Assurance

Year in the cycle: 2nd

Main actions:

Advisory group member

5) Abbreviation: TeachEX

Name: Teaching Excellence in Israel

Year in the cycle: 2nd

Main actions:

Advisory group member

6) Abbreviation: EXTRAsup

Name: Reconnaissance et garantie de la qualité des acquis et des compétences extra-curriculaires des étudiants

Year in the cycle: 2nd

Main actions:

Dissemination of the results (including the study written by student experts)

7) Abbreviation: Net-QAPE

Name: Consolidating Quality Assurance and Validation in Higher Education in Malta

Year in the cycle: 2nd

Main actions:

Participating in the consultation process for the reform of external quality assurance system in Malta

8) Abbreviation: BizMOOC

Name: Knowledge Alliance to enable a European-wide exploitation of the potential of   MOOCs for the world of business

Year in the cycle: 2nd year out of 3

Main actions:

Dissemination of published MOOC co-created by ESU, increasing number of registered participants.

9) Abbreviation: TMF

Name: Together Moving Forward

Year in the cycle: 1 year.

Main Actions:

  • Capacity building
  • Support projects financially and structurally
  • Call for and assess, new applications.

10) Abbreviation: MEHR

Name: Modernisation, Education and Human Rights

Year in the cycle: 2nd year out of 3.  

Main Actions:

  • Designing survey questions on the topic
  • Analyse and disseminate results

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