BM73: Students denied democratic representation at the Social Summit
The Social Summit gathered EU heads of state or government, the social partners and other key stakeholders for an open discussion on how to promote fair jobs and growth. When the meeting took place in Gothenburg on November 17th (the International Students’ Day) education took a central role in the discussions and heads of state or government set out new directions for the future of higher education in Europe. The main question that should be on respective countries’ and the EU’s agenda now however, is where were the students?
The European Students’ Union was not invited despite being a stakeholder in the European Higher Education Area. In addition, the students present at the Summit were picked from the programme level at Gothenburg University, neither though the Swedish National Union of Students’, nor the local Student Unions. Furthermore, the only other person from the student movement on scene applied on own accord and was selected by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Student presence was therefore neither representative through the Student Union, nore guaranteed.
Students’ influence and participation as equal partners and important stakeholders is part of the core values of the European Higher Education Area. To see the leaders in Europe botch such an important prerequisite when discussing the future is concerning to say the least. We strongly condemn the way that student representation was handled at the Social Summit in Gothenburg. Now, it is up to the leaders of Europe to clarify whether or not they are serious about student representation and participation as key stakeholders in the future of higher education. Surely, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will reconsider, and take the lead in ensuring future student participation. If not, it sends a powerful message. A message that true student engagement, participation, and representation is not on the agenda of our leaders. A highly problematic and worrying message.
ESU strongly condemns the way that student participation and representation was dealt with for the Social Summit in Gothenburg. We expect, and demand a more responsible way of securing our future.