It undoubtedly has an important role to play - the market and
private sector have been shown to deliver multiple benefits in areas
such as air transport, multimedia and communications and retail
services, providing a level of choice and competition for consumers
that enable them to select the best product for their requirements.
then argue that, given the successful track record of the market in
this respect, it should be extended to other areas of daily life
such as education. After all, it is just a logical extension of a
tried-and-tested approach. If people gain from price reductions and
product choice because of market forces and when buying a
foreign holiday, surely they should and could benefit from the same
choices with their educational provision.
This is where the
market logic collides with fundamental human rights and entitlements.
There are several key differences between buying a foreign holiday and
following an educational pathway that make the marketisation agenda
fall down. Buying a holiday abroad is optional - as much as we may
like to think the opposite, it is a luxury - an addition to our daily
lives rather than an essential necessity. And because it is an optional
extra which we can choose to have or not, we expect to have to pay for
it. Having one simply makes our lives temporarily more enjoyable,
rather than bringing any wider individual and societal benefits.
Failure to have one impacts on no-one but ourselves.
is another matter entirely. Widely acknowledged as a basic human
right, it is an entitlement and an essential pre-requisite for
realising individual potential, citizenship, equal opportunities and
creating a knowledgeable, sustainable and equitable society in which
everyone can flourish. It is therefore something that needs to be
available to everyone, regardless of financial means, origin,
background or situation. The market does not work for basic human
rights and entitlements, because it functions on an entirely different
logic - of creating a good deal for optional extras that people can
either choose to have, or choose not to have. Education is not an
optional extra, and marketisation in practice simply means a shift away
from universal access and entitlement to limited access based on the
ability to pay for the 'goods' in question.
For this reason, the
recognition this month at the World Conference on Higher Education of HE as 'a public good and public responsibility' was a
major breakthrough against a growing tide seeking to inject market
forces into learning provision. While such a statement at global level
is an important statement of principle, the signs in Paris were that
it's just another step forward in a much longer-term battle. It's
going to take a lot more work by ESU and other higher education actors
before the marching tide seeking to marketise this 'public good' is
forced into a permanent retreat.
Until next month.
Editor - The Student Voice
|ESU makes a global impact at the WCHE
|'At no time in history has it been more important to invest in higher
education.' This was the strong and unequivocal message emanating from
global higher education leaders at the UNESCO World Conference held in
Paris earlier this month.
In a clear illustration of the strength of
the student voice, this statement is just one of a series of major step
forwards made by the conference as a result of the work of ESU and
student platforms across the world.
|Mobility figures up, but still far short of targets
2 million students have now been mobile under the Erasmus
programme. This was the celebratory news from the European Commission,
released in a press release yesterday (30th July). In the year 2007/8,
162,695 Erasmus students studied abroad, representing a 2.1% increase
compared to 2006/7. In a new addition to the programme, 20,002
students benefited from placement mobility to undertake a supported
traineeship abroad, a number that the Commission says is set to expand
in the coming years. Mobility grants have also increased to an average
of over 250 euros/month for both teacher and student placements.While
ESU welcomes these figures and the increased Erasmus programme budget
under the enhanced Lifelong Learning Programme, the cold fact remains
that across Europe, only 4% of students are able to benefit from
|Numbers in HE up, but not enough
11% of EU public expenditure goes on education, and investment must
be maintained even in the face of the current economic and financial
crisis. This was one of the key messages from a new report published
last month by Eurydice, an agency of the European Commission.
Combining statistical data and qualitative information, the report
provides a wide-ranging overview of recent trends and the organisation
and functioning of European education systems.
One of the
principle findings is that the number of people in higher education has
risen consistently since 1998 to reach over 18 million, representing an
increase of 15% in 8 years. This means that one-third of all 20-22
year olds are now studying in higher education. While this advancement
seems significant at first sight, it is in fact insufficient to fulfil
the objectives of the EU's Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs.
|Student expertise the key to quality assurance
It has been up-and-running for the last two years, but with the help of
Council of Europe, ESU has just held the very first training session in
Strasbourg for students keen to join our Students' Experts Pool and
thereby play a key role in ensuring quality in institutions and quality
assurance agencies around Europe. 22 national QA student experts from
across Europe came together for 5 days of training to enable their
participation in review panels at European level, and thus to
facilitate the sustainable evolution of the pool.
|ESU visits IFMSA workshop on the Bologna Process
|At the last board meeting (April 2009), ESU delegates welcomed the
International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) as an
associate member. Medical students are all-too- often underrepresented
in local and national student unions because it is common that their
studies are separate from the rest of the university. This makes our
new connection to IFMSA particularly important, due to its strong
contacts with both national and local medical student associations.
|Upcoming ESU Events
|15-18th October: 18th European Student Convention, Stockholm
22nd-29th November: Board Meeting 57, Krakow, Poland.
|ESU is a partner in the HEXTLEARN project, or Higher Education Exploring ICT use for Lifelong Learning.
You can read all the latest news in the June/July newsletter here.
|Interesting bits from elsewhere