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Education should empower citizens to shape the future

Monday 05-10-2015 - 11:13

Tibor Navracsics encourages students and higher education to lead the way in promoting solidarity throughout Europe

The European Students’ Union welcomed European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr. Tibor Navracsics’ support for quality education and student-centered learning at the 30th European Students Convention held in Brussels in September.

Over 100 student representatives from over 38 European countries gathered at the convention with EU policy-makers, NGOs and higher education professionals to the discuss the effects of European higher education reforms on learning and teaching and how to apply the student-centered learning approach. 

In light of Europe’s refugee crisis, rapid technological developments and rising xenophobia and extremism, students across Europe stressed the need for student-centered, quality education for all. It was concluded that education has been at the roots of many issues people are facing today and that higher education should empower citizens to shape the future they want to live in.   It was agreed that by having inclusive and accessible education for students from diverse backgrounds, including refugees, this could be achieved and that free and open education is an investment in the future, but even more so, in the future of human rights and democracy.

A shift in pedagogical approaches is needed…

“Education can help us forge a path towards a fulfilling life – both in a professional and in a social sense. It has a crucial role in fostering intercultural dialogue and in preventing exclusion and radicalization. But in order to unlock its full potential, we need a shift in pedagogical approaches: Education needs to become more inclusive, to focus more on individual needs and to promote student-centered approaches to learning. (…) I know that the European Students' Union is eager to play a big role helping refugees and students in conflict areas. And I truly appreciate your commitment.“ says Mr. Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport  and one of the key speakers of the Convention. 

A general agreement was that the refugee crisis and the development of e-learning are triggering more changes in the Bologna Process than the structural reforms. The use of ICT in higher education and e-learning was mostly seen as a complement to traditional educational paths and not as a substitute to teacher-student interaction.

During the three day event, ESU projects such as PASCL (Peer Assessment of Student-Centred Learning), IDEAS (Identifying Effective Approaches to Enhancing the Social Dimension of Higher Education) and ESPRIT (Enhancing the Social Characteristics and Public Responsibility of Israeli Teaching through a HEI-Student Alliance) were presented through workshops and discussions.

 “Our 30th European Students’ Convention built a bridge between students and European policy-makers and we were extremely happy with the results and participation. Everyone agreed that students should be equal partners in the education process. We are grateful to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for their support to this event,” says Fernando Galan, Chairperson of European Students’ Union.

Background

30th European Students' Convention (ESC)
The European Students' Convention (ESC) is a biannual event organized by ESU where students’ representatives from the national unions of students from 38 different European countries, other stakeholders, experts and policy-makers have the opportunity to meet and discuss about the recent and future developments of higher education. Previous conventions have showed that they are an important and relevant contribution to higher education policies in Europe and a great meeting point for exchanging points of view between students, policy-makers and other stakeholders.
For more information, please feel free to consult the event webpage

Peer Assessement of Student-Centered Learning (PASCL)
With the support of the European Commission, ESU developed a new project called Peer Assessment of Student-Centred Learning (PASCL). The three-year project aims to re-evaluate the implementation of student-centered learning, highlight best practices and establish peer assessment procedures for the implementation of the concept in European higher education institutions.
For more information, please feel free to consult the event webpage 

Effective Approaches to Enhancing the Social Dimension of Higher Education (IDEAS)
This project was launched in October 2013 with the financial support of the European Commission and aims to increase the understanding of the environmental, social and political factors paving the way to success. Among the main project outcomes are: a database enlisting initiatives (programmes/policies/projects) that enhance equity in access, participation and completion of higher education across Europe; analysis of the data to look for evidences of causal links between the initiatives and improvements in equity for their target groups. 
For more information, please feel free to consult the event webpage

Enhancing Social Characteristics and Public Responsibility of Israeli Teaching through a HEI-Student Alliance (ESPRIT)
This Tempus project, coordinated by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev aims to analyze and map the social and public roles of higher education institutions in Israel and develop models for strengthening their social responsibility by redefining and deepening the cooperation between the students and their institutions, as well as with the society where they operate.
For more information, please feel free to consult the event webpage

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