April 2009
 Issue 12
Dear Friends,

ESU is currently enjoying a sense of satisfaction with a 'job well done' at the end of a month which has seen an almost unprecedented level of activity in and around our Brussels headquarters.  The publication of our Bologna with Student Eyes 2009 report is in itself a major triumph; the only independent, stakeholder perspective on the Bologna Process published this year, and a comprehensive, evidence-based analysis of the progress with the Process to date.

It gets better - the inclusion of a 20% target for balanced mobility across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in the Leuven Communiqué at the end of the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference is a major success for ESU coming after  two years of campaigning.  ESU had launched the target in a speech celebrating two decades of Erasmus and had been pushing for it to be adopted by as a firm commitment by European countries ever since.   Furthermore, the renewed and strengthened commitment of Ministers to the social dimension reflects the effectiveness with which the student voice made its voice heard in the context of the negotiations.

Progress has been made with the Process: the emphasis on quality assurance as a priority in ensuring transparency and the renewed commitment of Ministers to ensuring that higher education remains a public good and financial responsibility are important steps in the right direction.

Of course these are all just words on a page at present. The hard work now begins to translate paper promises into a better reality for European students.

Until next month.


Editor - The Student Voice
Student pressure forces Education Ministers to raise their game on Bologna
LeuvenWe did it!  After tough negotiations, student representatives from across Europe walked away from the small Belgian city of with Leuven with a deep sense of satisfaction after Ministers from the 46 Bologna countries committed themselves to a much more student-focused future for the Process.

Following strong criticism of the lack of attention paid to the social dimension of Bologna in recent times, Europe's education ministers agreed to set national targets for widening participation in Higher Education.  At the Leuven and Lovain-la-Neuve ministerial meeting this week, the ministers promised to develop data collection to facilitate the monitoring of progress on the social dimension and mobility, marking a major step forward in ensuring the delivery of these crucial action lines.

Another student victory came in the form of an explicit target for mobility across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).  All 46 Bologna countries will now be working towards achieving a target of 20% balanced mobility by 2020. This is a huge victory for ESU, which originally conceived such a target and has been fighting for it consistently over the last two years.  Such a target and a focus on significantly increasing the level of student mobility is essential for ensuring that the EHEA takes shape in much more than name over the next decade and it will be an objective easy to measure how other Bologna action lines have progressed. If mobility number go up, it means that students have enough financial support (social dimension), that recognition is no longer feared and that students feel a mobile study period is academically meaningful (quality assurance).


Looking at Bologna Through Student Eyes : BWSE revealed
BWSETimed to coincide the Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process this week, ESU has just launched its much-anticipated Bologna With Student Eyes 2009 report, the only independent stakeholder evaluation of Bologna Process implementation published this year. Using data from 33 national unions of students in Europe, the report shows that, two years after the last BWSE, member countries are still taking a 'pick-and-choose' approach to Bologna Process implementation, selecting certain action lines and overlooking others.  There has also been a persistent failure to match words with action and to translate the commitments made on paper into tangible outcomes.

The report particularly draws attention to the tendency to neglect the social dimension of the Bologna Process and to focus instead on the structural elements of Bologna reform such as the three-cycle system.  While progress can be seen on certain action lines, notably quality assurance and student participation, the harsh reality is that progress is lagging on almost all action lines of the Bologna Process, making the goal of a European Higher Education Area still appear as something of a distant aspiration for the time being.


Rankings? No thanks!
The vast majority of national student unions in Europe do not want to see a European system of university rankings or classification, nor do such proposals work in the best interests of European students.  This was the strong message in a statement issued this week by ESU on the 'transparency tools' currently being touted as a quality-enhancement and choice tool at European level.  With the European Commission having launched a call to tender for a 'feasibility study' into how Europe could follow its UK and US counterparts by having a system for the ranking of universities, ESU launched its counter-declaration to clearly demonstrate why such proposals work against the needs and priorities of both students and higher education institutions.

Taking it to the Parliament : Student debate on education policy with MEPs
EPStudents from across Europe converged on the European Parliament yesterday to debate education policies with some of those responsible for making them.  Around 60 students from both the European Students' Union and partner organisation AEGEE gathered together with members of the Parliament's Culture and Education Committee to discuss key issues affecting the learning opportunities of young people in Europe.  Key topics for the debate were the latest developments in the Bologna Process, the EU's Strategic Framework for Cooperation on Education and Training and the Parliament's role in education policy in its forthcoming mandate.

In This Issue
Bologna With Student Eyes is Coming!
Bologna With Student Eyes is Coming!
Preparing for a World Conference on Higher Education
Former ESU alumni heading for the EP
Upcoming ESU Events

12-14 June, Equity training for NUSes, Austria

Interesting bits from elsewhere
The European Commission has just launched a new Youth Health Initiative (YHI) project designed to encourage young people to become active partners in promoting their health.  ESU is a partner in the project, and you can visit the newly created website here here

The European Commission has just published its first ever Eurobarometer survey on how European students view higher education in Europe.  The full survey can be found here

HE News in Brief
The Economist: Bolognese Sauce

European Commission: A new era of youth policies

European Commission: How European students see higher education in Europe

Zimbabwe: Proposed higher education act condemned

Global: Scholar persecution widespread, says study

The full text of the Leuven Communique of the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference can be found here

A statement by Bologna Ministers regarding the Ministerial can be found here

ESU in the Media
Times Higher Education: Students say Bologna Process has yet to improve their opportunities

Coming up...
There's a lot to look out for in the month ahead...

April - launch of ESU's manifesto for the European Parliament elections

April - launch of Bologna With Student Eyes 2009

28-29 April - Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process, Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

7 June - European Parliament elections
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For more information contact:
Frances Aldson:[email protected]
Anita Liice:[email protected]

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