07.05.2010
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New ESU Chairperson wants to reverse EU view on higher education

Bert Vandenkendelaere from Belgium has been elected as the new Chairperson of the European Students’ Union. ”I want to reverse the European Union’s tendency towards seeing higher education as a tradable service and as a means to solely forward the EU’s economic ambitions”, says Vandenkendelaere.

The Directive on services in the internal market of the European Union (EU) (Directive 2006/123/EC) was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2006, and lists education as a commercial service. In ESU’s view, this contradicts the EU education ministers’ commitment within the Bologna Process framework to support education as a public responsibility.  The Directive had to be fully implemented by the Member States by 28 December 2009.

Vandenkendelaere said: “We are now starting to see the consequences. We fear that the principles behind this will gradually move European universities away from the rich cultural and educational traditions they have as sources of non-business related ideas and independent research.”

Vandenkendelaere expects governments to fulfil the Bologna Process promises on increasing access to and widening participation in higher education.

”The EU modernisation agenda sees higher education primarily as a driver for the economy. European students view it as a means for people to develop themselves, for social mobility and for fostering democratic societies.”Vandenkendelaere was elected at ESU’s Board Meeting in Madrid on May 6-8. He starts his mandate on July 1 and is elected for a one-year term. Vandenkendelaere is currently a member of the ESU Executive Committee.

Article published on May 7, 2010.

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