The 14th European Student Convention was a resounding success. Over a hundred participants descended on Lisbon for four days in order to discus the Lisbon Agenda from the perspective of European Students. Workshop topics included Employability in Relation to Social Cohesion, Financial Sustainability of HE, The Student Contribution towards the Lisbon goals, The role of HE in creating and environmentally sustainable society and HE and regional development.
Panel sessions were successful food for thought and sparked discussions late into the evenings, and we crossed the European borders with a moving contribution from a student activist living in Western Sahara, Rabab Amidane, which you can read about on this page.
In the concluding session of this convention, the particpants put their heads together to produce a statement to the European Higher Education Ministers, outlining their aims for the Lisbon Agenda. The following conclusions were the mainstayers and ESU stands firmly by these convictions:
- Europe should strive for a sustainable society characterized by the fulfilment of human needs while maintaining or even increasing the quality of the natural environment for present and future generations. Higher education can and should actively contribute to the realisation of this aim.
- Fighting obstacles of social mobility and equity should be a main priority for the modernization agenda. A bench-marking process should be set up on access, participation in and completion of higher education and in addition use social, financial and academic methods to improve participation of underrepresented groups. This should be set up in close cooperation with the higher education community, including students.
- A crucial aspect of sustainability is active citizenship, democracy and the rule of law. In order to sustain and increase those features of society, education is of key importance. However the contribution of higher education to civic responsibility and democracy is not self-evident and should never be taken for granted. Higher Education should not only provide the labour market with highly skilled workers, but should also provide the society with active democratic citizens. This is also part of the fight against the environmental crisis.
- In the light of the Lisbon agenda, higher education in relation to growth, social cohesion and sustainability is being discussed in governments around Europe. However, these discussions seldom lead to action against fighting obstacles for equity and sustainability. A more activ approach on the national level of ministries is needed if the goals of social cohesion and sustainability are to be achieved. And students need to be involved in those discussions.