We are fortunate to have a strong and united student movement in the UK. We have amassed a great deal of experience in our 90-year history and we are keen to share this by collaborating with student groups seeking to develop their own ways to influence the education they receive. This section introduces those collaborations.
Creating a National Union in Kosovo
The overall aim of the project is to support the internationalisation of the Kosova Higher Education system through the establishment of a Kosovo Students’ Union (SIHEKSU).
There is currently no legal framework that empowers student participation in the governance and management of HEI’s in Kosovo, nor is there any legal basis and administrative structures for any kind of national organisation.
Going on from this there is a desire to develop the human capacity of students’ unions in Kosovan HEIs and to learn from the experience of others with a longer tradition of formal student participation at a local or national level.
The project will be working with students’ unions in the public and private higher education sector in Kosovo as well as management, teaching and administrative staff in those institutions.
The project is a partnership that involves NUS Scotland, Paris – Lodron University, Salzburg, University of Edinburgh, University of Alicante, OH the Austrian NUS, Ministry of Education Kosovo, Kosovan Centre for International Co-operation in HE Science and Technology, World University Service, University of Pristina, University of Prizren, Hakshi Zeca University Peje and the Kosovan Accreditation Agency.
The project will run from December 2013 until 30 November 2016, the objectives are to:
- Develop a legal framework for the Kosova Students’ Union
- Facilitate student elections for the KSU
- Support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to establish a KSU office along with guidance on suitable regulation and administrative procedures
- Supporting membership of KSU to ESU
- Facilitate international networking and co-operation for KSU
Overall this project forms part of a series of measures that supports the development of structural measures in Kosovo with the aim of integrating Kosova into the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process).
Enhancing Student Participation in Quality Assurance in Armenian HE
Sparqs are also partners in an exciting European project in Armenia which kicked off in February 2014, it is a three-year project funded, like the NUS Scotland intervention in Kosovo, by the European Commission Tempus programme.
Known as ESPAQ (Enhancing Student Participation in Quality Assurance in Armenian HE) project, it involves thirteen partners, a majority of whom are from Armenia, with the University of Macerata as the lead partner.
The objective of the project is to strengthen the quality assurance processes and practices in Armenian higher education by ensuring the involvement of all the stakeholders, especially the students – the key beneficiaries. sparqs’ role will be to train a core group of students who will then act as “experts” and disseminate knowledge and good practice throughout their university.
They will also assist in writing a handbook containing tools and guidance about student involvement in quality assurance.
United for Equality Conference
Paris, France 28 – 31 November 2015
What was the event?
United for Equality is a conference that was organised on behalf of the Maison des Potes-Maison de l'égalité, which is a French NGO founded in 1985 with the aim of combating all forms of discrimination. At present they are working on a European wide campaign to submit four joint demands to the members of the European parliament. At the time of the conference the other named partners were, SOS Racism Sicily, SOS Racism Portugal, Movimiento contra la intolerancia Spain, MRAX Belgium, SOS Mod Racisme Denmark among others. The conference aimed to bring together anti-racist activists, leaders of European organisations from across Europe, including MEPs and locally elected politicians to reach a consensus on how to take the demands forward.
What were the objectives?
The objectives were to debate, discuss and agree text for fr key areas of work.
• Regularisations of undocumented workers
• Voting rights in local elections for all foreign residents
• Opening restricted professions to foreigners
• Legalisation of class actions
Why did we go?
International students in the UK are one of the largest migrant communities in the UK, this combined with our commitment to fighting racism was a great opportunity to meet with other organisations, network, evaluate different perspectives and develop new partnerships.
NUSUK were represented by Mostafa Rajaai, International Students Officer. Other delegates came from a variety of anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations, migrant’s rights organisations and organisations who are engaged with asylum seekers' rights.
Mostafa spoke at a few sessions and presented the British political landscape as well as actions and campaigns that we have undertaken to address issues of racism, xenophobia and migrants' rights.
What did we learn?
Mostafa writes: “It was interesting to see what different organisations around Europe are doing to make life better for migrants and asylum seekers. This ranged from film-making and screenings in mixed communities to bring them together to practical support for asylum seekers who need food and shelter and political lobbying and direct action. The political debate around race and immigration on the Left of Europe's political spectrum seems to me to be not as progressive as the debates amongst the British Left which in itself was interesting and informative.
What did we contribute?
As part of the conference, representatives of the non-French organisations got together and planned next steps. As many of them didn't have much experience with petitions, consultations and similar aspects of the political system, Mostafa helped them navigate some of these topics and offered to help them draft our demands to go to the European Parliament. The process has not yet started.
What are the follow up actions?
There will be a meeting in Brussels on March 21 which we are awaiting for its details. This would be to take our demands to the European Parliament. The ultimate aim is to introduce certain policies which would benefit migrants in Europe. The starting point would be the 4 aims of the conference.