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Commonwealth report urges governments to strengthen student voices

Friday 18-11-2016 - 10:28

Student Unions across the Commonwealth should have their voices strengthened through better resourcing and expansion.

This is the conclusion of the State of Student Governance in the Commonwealth report – a joint research program with NUS and the Commonwealth Secretariat. 

The report findings state national student organisations (NSOs) across the 52 Commonwealth members states face challenges with irregular financing and resourcing, lack of government support and a decreasing membership.   In fact, 51 per cent don’t even have a NSO!

As a result, three main policy recommendations have been issued:

1.    Increase the number of NSOs in the Commonwealth, in partnership with government ministries and authorities in the education sector
2.    Increase the effectiveness and sustainability of NSOs by developing organisational development
3.    Raise awareness of student organisations globally, nationally and locally

Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said the report and its recommendations represented a “tremendous opportunity” to ensure that NSOs are active, engaged and influential.

“Students are the most significant stakeholder group when it comes to education, yet wide-ranging policy changes are often agreed without consulting them,” she said. “This is increasingly important considering the current global rate of change, and the constant rise of new technologies.”

Why did we commission this report?

The report was commissioned following the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) in Mauritius in 2012. Initial findings were presented at the 19th CCEM in The Bahamas in 2015, where Commonwealth governments recognised student governance as a valuable way of promoting student engagement. 

The report will now inform Commonwealth policy and planning regarding student education and participation.

140 students and academic professionals were surveyed and the CSA will be creating a toolkit to support the three main recommendations. 

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