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Open Call for Participants for the project “Academic Freedom – Time to Act!”

Are you passionate about academic freedom and interested in learning about your rights and actions you can take to support the development of Academic Freedom (AF)?  We’re looking to bring together a diverse, intercultural group of young people to join us for Academic Freedom – Time to Act!’, a series of workshops that aim to welcome anyone who wishes to deepen their knowledge on defending, monitoring and promoting Academic Freedom on European, national and/or local level – high levels of expertise on the topics are NOT required, our training workshops will be conscious of the diverse abilities of our participants! 

The activities are organised by the European Students Union (ESU) and supported by Open Society Foundations. They are dedicated to representatives or active students from National Student Unions or representatives of youth organisations who are interested in implementing their own campaign initiative on the topic of AF.

If you are a student/youth activist and want to learn more about the challenges of Academic Freedom and how to tackle them, as well as have the chance to implement your project through a small grant, have a look at our programme:


Academic Freedom 101, 17th to the 21st (the 17th is the arrival day and the 21st the departure) in October in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The first activity will be a training session of 3 days for participants to contribute to raising awareness on AF and what are the challenges/infringements related to Academic Freedom and Academic Integrity, why to defend and promote these rights and who has a role and responsibility in this and how to monitor these values and how to take action for AF. 

Academic Freedom: Time to Act! – Ideathon, 16th to 20th of January 2023 (16th being the arrival day and the 20th the departure), in Brussels, Belgium

The second activity, Ideathon, will include participants working together on their campaign proposal. Participants will apply in groups, where they will have to develop their own campaign proposal within the AF framework. During the Ideathon, training on organising and facilitating training on Academic Freedom at a local level will be provided. Three student groups with the strongest proposals will each be awarded 750 EUR to implement their campaign at the end of the activity. The selection committee will consist of ESU’s Project Officer, Human Rights Coordinator and ESU Presidency member(s).

Academic Freedom Local Actions, January 2023 – May 2023

After the training and selection of grantees, three groups will set up and implement their own project or action of their choice to help foster the development of academic freedom on a local level.

Students fight for Academic Freedom Award, May 2023 (ESU’s Bureau Meeting)

The last event will allow the three groups of participants to present their projects and share good practices with students from all over Europe at the Bureau meeting, which is ESU’s bi-annual event that gathers all of its National Student Union members.

Academic Freedom 101  + Ideathon

When and where? Academic Freedom 101: The first activity will take place from the 17th to the 21st (the 17th being the arrival day and the 21st the departure) in October

Time to Act! – Ideathon: The second activity will take place from the 16th to the 20th of January 2023 in Brussels, Belgium

Who? 30 participants for Academic Freedom 101

40 participants for Ideathon – Divided into small groups of 3 to 5 people

*Participants should come from 47 member states of the Council of Europe and parties to the European Cultural Convention (Belarus, Holy See, and Kazakhstan) 

Topic?  Academic Freedom, human rights, Academic Integrity, democratic participation.

Cost? Accommodation, food, programme and travel costs are covered by ESU.

Deadline for application? 19th December, 23:59h CEST (Central European Summer Time Zone).

To apply, register your group here

If you don’t have any group, but still would like to participate, register here.  It’s as easy as that!

Are you motivated, eager to learn and ready to travel to Belgium? Apply now!

What about the training course ‘Academic Freedom 101’ and workshop ‘Ideathon’?

The training on Academic Freedom aims to raise awareness on the topic and offer innovative solutions to defend and promote AF.  By addressing topics such as the history of AF in Europe, the current situation in Belarus, and the role of important actors such as the Solidarity Organisation of Students and Academics in Norway (SAIH), Scholars at Risk (SAR), Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) as well as the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) have in defending academic freedom rights.  The training will also serve as a mapping exercise for participants to understand how to defend their constitutional rights and take action on a local level.

The second activity, ‘Ideathon,’ allows participants to use the knowledge they have obtained in the first activity or from their personal experience to create their own proposal for a campaign or project that will foster the development and/or protection of Academic Freedom in their communities. 

With these two activities, ESU wants to contribute to supporting participants interested in the topic of AF, build their skills and knowledge, foster new relationships, and build solidarity. The training enables an intersectional approach by having participants from all over Europe. 

30 participants will be selected based on the received application forms for the AF training course, while 40 will be selected for Ideathon.

Profile of the participants:

● Being at least 18 years old.

● Have a good level of English.

● Willing to be actively involved in workshops and activities for the entire duration of the sessions.

● Willing to build a real information campaign to be effectively implemented within your communities and surroundings after the event.

● Committing oneself to travel to present the campaign results in the ESU Bureau Meeting in May, in case you are selected for the grant. 

● Being open to working in a group of culturally, socially and gender-diverse individuals that may have various backgrounds

*Preference in selecting participants will be given to those wanting to participate in the AF training course and Ideathon. If the participants are already knowledgeable on the topic of AF and want to only participate in the second activity, it is also possible.

Working language:

The application must be in English, which will take only a few minutes! The proposed activities will all happen in English.

Practical information:

100% of the expenses relevant to participation (program, international travel, accommodation, food and transportation within the city during the event) are covered by the host organization. Participants must save all receipts for items they wish to have reimbursed. ESU will reimburse all expenses (travel, food, accommodation and visa costs) at the end of the session. 

The speed of the money appearing in your account depends on the currencies, your bank if all the receipts are present, and the workload of ESU’s team, but we will prioritize fully completed reimbursement forms. Hence, you will receive your money as soon as possible!

Participants need to be present for the whole duration of the study session to be reimbursed.

Special needs:  

Upon the request of participants, special assistance will be provided, ensuring the accessibility of the study session. Please indicate any special assistance needed in your application form, and ESU will consider it in the organisation of the activities.


Even if the COVID situation has significantly improved and currently allows for our training course to be held in person, all safety measures needed will be put into place according to the health situation at the moment of the event, including the possibility of wearing masks (depending on the rules of the host country), eating in designated areas, etc. If needed, we will communicate the measures taken to all selected participants.

Deadline for applying: 

Candidates should complete the online application and submit it no later than the 11th of December 2022! You can find the application form for groups here and individuals here

If you require assistance in completing the form or need an alternative format, please feel free to send an email to  

We are looking forward to receiving your applications!

Participants will be selected based on their motivation and how well they meet the criteria of the ideal participant profile above. All applicants will be notified of the results of their application via email.


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