2004 Programme of Principles

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ESIB- the National Union of Students in Europe was founded in 1982 to promote the educational, social, economic, cultural and political interests of students in Europe. ESIB currently has over 50 member organisations from 37 countries. Thus ESIB represents more than 11 million students in Europe.

ESIB’s program of principles summarizes ESIB’s basic viewpoints and vision on Higher Education. The paper is divided into three sections. The first part gives an overview about the goals and values of ESIB as an organisation. The second part lists the student rights that ESIB and its member organisations strive for. The final part summarizes the characteristics of a well functioning Higher Education system.

The program of principles serves two main purposes. First of all, it brings coherence in ESIB’s past and future policy papers. Furthermore, it offers external parties a transparent and comprehensive insight into ESIB as an organisation and its main goals and values.

This program of principles is revocable by the Board Meeting with a 2/3 majority. The intention is to revisit and confirm or revise the program of principles at every 4th Board Meeting starting from BM51 onwards.

I. ESIB – The National Unions of Students in Europe

1. ESIB is a democratic, non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-partisan organisation.

2. ESIB is a legitimate representative of students at the European level.

ESIB is an umbrella organisation of the National Unions of Students from the countries of the European Cultural Convention. ESIB’s members are controlled and run by students, democratic, independent and representative for their countries.
3. ESIB represents the interests and views of students in Higher Education and promotes the views of all potential students

4. ESIB actively promotes its views towards the other stakeholders in higher education.
5. ESIB is both a political and service-oriented organisation.

ESIB is involved in political decision-making and it provides services to its members.
6. ESIB is, in principle, pro-active.

In principle ESIB always advocates her own plans, developed from her own ideas.
7. ESIB’s independence as well as ESIB’s external image shall not be negatively affected by the consequences of (financial) support by third parties.

8. ESIB takes up an active position towards gender equality, the emancipation of minority groups and it strives for sustainable development. It fights against nationalism and any kind of discrimination. ESIB actively propagates the abovementioned points.

9. ESIB stimulates cooperation and networking between its members.

10. ESIB supports the work of its members by disseminating information and sharing experience.


II. Student Rights

11. Education is a right not a privilege.

12. Students have the right to a discrimination free environment.

13. Students have the right to free movement.

14. People have the right to education in an overall lifelong perspective.

People have the right, but not an obligation, to life long learning. Knowledge is not automatically considered outdated or expired after a certain time period.
15. Students have the right to a fair recognition of their qualifications using transparent, coherent and reliable recognition procedures considered within a reasonable time limit.

Recognition of qualifications serves student and graduate mobility both for academic and professional purposes. Recognition of qualifications is ensured in all countries and institutions.
16. Students are equal partners in higher education. Therefore they are involved in the entire process of decision-making in higher education.

17. Students are active and responsible citizens within society and they are treated as independent adults.

18. Students receive a grant that is sufficient to fulfil the costs of living as well as their study costs.

The income that students receive is not linked to parental income. Students that undertake a fulltime program cannot be expected to provide for their own income.
19. All students are able to study abroad.

Mobility is in the strong interest of students. Student mobility encourages academic development, cultural experiences and individual growth.


III. Higher Education

20. Higher education has a societal, a personal and an economic objective. These objectives have to be seen coherently.

Education serves several purposes in societies, the most important ones being its role as a means for social development and democratic empowerment, means of accumulating and sharing knowledge, economic competitiveness, as well as a means for personal growth and well-being.
21. Education is a public good and a public responsibility. Higher education is publicly run and funded, and freely accessible.

22. The corner stone of European integration is diversity and pluralism.

23. The accessibility of higher education is not affected by inequalities such as disabilities, distance, economic disadvantage, age or social and cultural background.

Education will only be truly equal if all people can participate in educational experience, which is accessible to all and that acknowledges and responds to the diversity of the student body and the society at large in terms of access, progression and outcomes.
24. Within the higher education institution there is a good legal status for students that enables them to freely express their opinions without this leading to repercussions or an unfair treatment.

25. Every higher education institution strives for optimum conditions of studeerbaarheid.

Higher education institutions make all efforts to ensure that students are able to finish their studies in a reasonable time span within the right boundary conditions.
26. Higher education provides a freedom of choice in the form and in the context of the education that connects to the multiple visions that students have with respect to society, research and employability.

Students should have the right to freely and independently choose their study path. The labour market should not directly nor indirectly control the dimensioning of the higher education.
27. Higher education institutions support and stimulate students in acquiring a critical and independent attitude to life.

Academic training implies more than acquiring a diploma; it also implies to be able to participate in society, culture, politics and governance.
28. Higher education institutions are transparent in their decision-making.

Higher education institutions make publicly available all its decisions.
29. All higher education stakeholders are continuously striving for improvement of the quality of education. Higher education is committed to self-study and external review.

30. The successful completion of a previous cycle of education guarantees access to the following cycle of education.

There are no additional selection mechanisms, be it special entry exams or numerus clausus. Mobility between different higher education sectors is flexible.
31. The impact of science and research on society and the environment is continuously reflected upon.

32. Research and education are always intertwined.

33. In research and higher education all fields and disciplines are equally important.

34. Main principles for any kind of mobility cooperation are solidarity and reciprocity.

ESIB stresses the importance of institutional cooperation and infrastructural support to develop balanced two-way mobility between all regions.


Adopted at the 47th Board Meeting Tallinn, Estonia, November 2004


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