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How it all began – thirty years of European student leadership

BRUSSELS – The 30th Anniversary of W)ESIB/ESU will be celebrated in Limassol, Cyprus in October 2012. The event, organised along with the 24th European Students’ Convention will be hosted by POFEN, the national student union of Cyprus. How did it all once began?

(W)ESIB/ESU was founded on a Sunday in October 1982. It was decided that the first meeting would be preceded by a seminar on a topic of interest to all unions. The topic of the first seminar was “Student participation in decision-making bodies in Higher Education”.
The format has stood the test of time and is still in use. Annual Board meetings are preceded by a seminar on a topic of interest to all unions. The seminars provide a great forum for policy discussions.Cold war
According to Björn Sundström, First Director of WESIB in 1982-1986, post-Second World War European politics greatly influenced the student movement.

“It was a time of the Cold War between East and West, between socialism and capitalism, between the one-party state and parliamentary democracy. Even within professed democracies there was the struggle between Left and Right with their different views on higher education and its place in society. All this affected the development of student politics in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.”

After witnessing several more or less successful gatherings of student representatives in the 1970’s and the early 80’s, ten national student organisations participated in the Constitutional Meeting of WESIB in Stockholm, Sweden, on 17 October 1982.

After the founding of the organisation, the first six months were spent establishing the WESIB office and introducing the Bureau to international organisations in the field of higher education.

“Although the stated purpose of WESIB was not to compete with the IUS, a new chapter in the history of co-operation between NUSes was beginning.The expansion of WESIB into ESIB, following the fall of the Iron Curtain and the democratisation of Eastern Europe, was obviously always something to hope for, but at the time difficult to truly believe in.”

Read more about the first 30 years of ESU from the upcoming publication that will be launched in October 2012 in Limassol, Cyprus. The publication portrays the development of W/ESIB/ESU and highlights the impact of the organization on policies, student unions and people.

— ENDS —

Invitation to the (W)ESIB/ESU 30th Anniversary Celebration and 24th European Students Convention. Registrate here.

Follow us on Twitter and with the event hashtag (#ESU30years)
Also have a look at the page of the event on Facebook.


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