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Student participation improves the culture of dialogue

At the annual conference of the International Association of Universities this week, ESU called for efforts to create a more diverse student body. Andrea Blättler from ESU’s Executive Committee spoke of student participation as one of the vital factors for those who want to establish an intercultural dialogue inside HEIs.

“But student participation as a means for higher educational intercultural dialogue depends, however, on participation of all societal groups. Intercultural dialogue requires education for all, not for the few”, she says.

Blättler believes that a diverse group of students, together with the academic and technical staff, can represent the diverse societal interests and perspectives inside universities.

For the last year and a half, ESU has worked to bring together student unions from across the globe, in an effort to consolidate a single student voice before UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education in Paris earlier this year. One of the joint priorities, as outlined in the Global Student Statement from january 2009, was student participation in both discussions and decision-making at higher education institutions.

“Universities can become role models for intercultural dialogue on the basis of a participatory governance approach. Through this, we will not only get a step closer to reaching our joint vision of a society of peace and understanding. We will also to make the step from analysing and reporting to changing and acting, to address the very concrete challenges which we face in the beginning of the 21st century and which we know only too well”, says Blättler.

The International Association of Universitites’ (IAU) annual conference took place in Louaize in Lebanon. The topic was “Role of Higher Education in Fostering the Culture of Dialogue and Understanding”.

Read the programme of the conference here.


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