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Students respond to Commission’s proposal of new European Education Area

Mixed bag of “applause”, “why’s and “how”s

Brussels, 21 November 2017

Stronger European leadership and ambitious policies go as a red thread throughout the “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” strategy outlined by the European Commission.

Sudden changes without proper consultation of stakeholders is not the democratic way

“The European Students’ Union (ESU) welcomes that the Commission recognises higher education as a necessity to succeed in a more inclusive and united Europe, but introducing sudden changes without proper consultation of key stakeholders is something we cannot support,” says Helge Schwitters, President, European Students’ Union

New “Sorbonne process” replacing the Bologna Process?

Maybe the biggest surprise is the establishment of a new “Sorbonne process”. Building on the transnational Bologna process, its focus is to “mutual recognition of higher education and school leaving diplomas and to facilitate cross-border validation of training and lifelong learning certificates”

“It seems to us that the Commission has given up on the Bologna Process. They rightfully point out that the non-binding agreement has not reached its targets. Nonetheless, the ministerial meeting in Paris is right around the corner and we have not heard any Bologna countries calling for legal tools like the one the EU now proposes,” says Schwitters

More students going abroad! We applaud the increased investment in Erasmus+ 

The Commission ambitiously states that it wants to see 7,5% of European students take part in the Erasmus+ programme during their studies. In order to get there, no less than 29,4 billion € is to be allocated if member states agree. Introduction of a European Student card aims to ease the bureaucratic burden.

“We applaud the heavy investment in Erasmus+. Our advice would be to ensure easy access to grants that are substantial enough to cover the costs associated with studying abroad. Involving students in the allocation of the resources will be key in making a realistic impact” says Caroline Sundberg, Vice President, European Students’ Union, before she warns:
“Premature introduction of a student’s card without proper consultation can’t win our support. Existing cards play important roles in accessing student ecosystems. We shouldn’t substitute these without carrying over essential functions”

Look beyond “elitist” institutions and offer all students quality education

The Commission proposes the creation of a European Network of Universities, which, as ESU reads it, leads to the establishment of new institutions, on a European level.

“Building a stronger European identity can definitely be done by sharing institutions’ education pathways. Questions arise whether new universities have to be established. Investments in already existing ones are needed. Sometimes the problem is not a lack of money, but resource redistribution. Increasing the quality of education is important, let us look beyond excellent institutions and make sure that all students are offered high-quality education,” says Adam Gajek.

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