First day European Students Convention highlights need to remain vigliant
BUDAPEST – The 21st European Students Convention (ESC) kicked off in the evening of 15 February with openingspeeches highlighting the importance and historical development of students participation. “Although a lot has already been achieved and students have gained more influence over the years, developemnts in some European countries, such as Hungary and Romania, show that a lot of work still needs to be done. We have to remain vigliant.”, said the Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU), Bert Vandenkendeleare.
On 16 February, the first official day of the ESC, the current situation in Belarus –where students were jailed and expelled from their universities after protesting against Lukashenko- and the effects of internationalisation of Higher Education on students’ participation were high on the agenda of the speakers. As well, the more than one hundred European students’ representatives discussed and mapped the practices of students’ participation in Europe to obtain input on how they can improve their national situations.
One of the Belgian students representative, wrote in a tweet after the working groups on students participation: “I have a better view of the (dis)advantages of the Belgian/Flemish system of student governance after hearing about other systems.” During the afternoon sessions of the first day of the ESC, which lasts until 18 February, the Hungarian loan scheme for students was discussed as well as the development of youth policy and the implementation of it at the European level.
A discussion on the general paradigm shifts in the public sector, as well as reflections on the impact of the EU2020 Strategy, the long-term economic strategy of the European Union are on the agenda for 17 February.
On the last day of the meeting, the Head of the Department of Higher Education of the Council of Europe, Sufjan Bergan, will give a final speech on the role of education for emancipation of society and the importance of strengthening the students’ participation. To conclude the ESC, the European students will release hundreds of balloons on the Freedom Bridge in Budapest. With this, they want to emphasise their solidarity with the repression of students worldwide and the Belarussian students in particular.