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In the midst of hot springs and smelly sharks

REYKJAVIK – Nordic and Baltic students gathered in Iceland from 21 to 24 March to talk about employability of students and recent graduates and different ways to courage entrepreneurship and innovation. One of the projects run by the European Students’ Union (ESU), called Student Advancement of Graduates’ Employability (SAGE), was presented at the conference.

The group, also known as NOM, meets biannually in one of the countries in the region to discuss addressing issues for the student population. NOM is a network of national unions of students all from Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the west to Finland and the Baltic states in the east. This time, the Icelandic national union of students called SHI invited its counterparts to join them in the country’s capital Reykjavik for a series of debates on employability and entrepreneurship.

Elisabeth Gehrke, a member of the Executive Committee of ESU, participated in the seminar and meetings on behalf of the organisation. She had the opportunity to present the SAGE project and to coordinate a workshop organised as a role-play centred around bringing forth the stakeholders’ views on employability.

Analysing European higher education reforms

The SAGE project analyses the effects of European higher education reforms on graduates’ employability and gives students a voice in the decision-making process in policies that can affect it. Therefore SAGE will carry out various activities, for instance a review of current educational policies and the employability of graduates, an identification of links between educational policies and the employability of graduates, a collection of recommendations by stakeholders, and an analysis in countries concerning positive and negative results and the connection to policy processes. SAGE’s main outcomes are the research studies “Bologna with Students Eyes 2012”, “EU 2020 Student Review” and “Graduates Employability in Europe” which are to be followed up with a training program for student representatives and a handbook on graduates’ employability.

Students’ involvement in the labour market

I was very happy to be able to participate in this NOM event and a special thank you goes to our gracious host SHI. I was at a similar event held by Mediterranean students in the fall on entrepreneurship and innovation. It is interesting to see these issues are coming into their own all over the student movement. Students want to be proactive partners on labour market issues,” Gehrke says.

Topics discussed ranged from tools for student innovation and entrepreneurship to the social dimension of employability. The unions also held their formal meeting where among other things the future of the NOM-cooperation was discussed. The participants also got to know each others’ cultures and especially the Icelandic one, where SHI introduced its guests to the hot spring Blue Lagoon and treated them to whale meat and fermented shark. ESU’s representative preferred the Blue Lagoon to the smelly shark.

The participants took part in workshops during the conference.

Many topics were discussed during the event, including the employability of students and graduates.

Icelandic student representatives with the President of Iceland, Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and the Rector of the University of Iceland, Ms. Kristin Ingolfsdottir.

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For more information, please contact:

Karina Ufert, ESU Chairperson: +32/473.669.892 // or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 //

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.


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