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Helge Schwitters from Norway elected President of the European Students’ Union

Helge Schwitters from Norway has been elected as President of the European Students’ Union (ESU). Along with Helge, two Vice-Chairpersons, Adam Gajek (Poland) and Caroline Sundberg (Sweden) as well as seven Executive Committee members were also elected at the 72nd Board Meeting of ESU taking place in Malta, from 2 to 6 May.

For the positions of the seven Executive Committee members, the following student representatives were elected: Chiara Patricolo (Italy), Aleksandar Šušnjar (Croatia), Filip Prihoda (Czech Republic), Gohar Hovhannisyan (Armenia), João Pedro Estêvão Martins (Portugal), Katrina Koppel (Estonia), Yolanda Trujillo Adriá (Spain).

Over 100 delegates from 45 national unions of students from 38 countries participated in the meeting. The newly elected leadership will represent more than 15 million students in Europe. Their one year mandate will start on 1 July 2017.

Helge Schwitters was ESU’s Human Rights and Solidarity Coordinator for the past year. Prior to that role, he chaired the working group on post-2015 development goals and was a member of the International Cooperations Working Group. He has been involved in the student movement for many years both on a local, national and international level. Helge served also as the Officer for International Affairs for the National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) holding the position for two consecutive mandates. Among many other responsibilities he was the main political project manager for the “Global Student Voice” seminar and NSO’s advocate for the Students at Risk programme together with SAIH, an organisation he also was a board member of. In 2012/13 he sat as a member of the University board at his home university.

“As President, I will bring the approach of an idealistic realist. Believing firmly in the potential for social mobility and justice in higher education, it saddens me that this if often not the reality. We have to see all topics in higher education as one interconnected whole. A holistic approach implies advocating for the social dimension for the sake of quality in higher education, and vice versa. This is something I intend to do by breaking down superficial barriers between ESU’s clusters and always use an interdisciplinary approach, as we advocate for in our work on academic curricula.” says Helge Schwitters.

Background on ESU´s new Vice-Chairs

Adam Gajek was a member of the European Students’ Union’s Executive Committee 2016/2017. His main focus lies in the area of quality of higher education, with an emphasis given to quality assurance and prior learning recognition. He is a member of the ESU Quality Assurance Student Experts’ Pool and a student expert of the Polish Accreditation Committee. He has been engaged in the student movement for many years, formerly served as an International Officer of the Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (PSRP), and a head of the Audit Committee of the Students’ Union of the University of Warsaw.

Caroline Sundberg is president of the Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) until 30 June 2017. She is currently Member of Experts group in Gender Equality in Higher Education, Student Bologna Expert, Member of Bologna Experts Group, Member of Authority Board, Member of Experts group in Internationalisation of Higher Education and Member of BFUG Reference group. Between 2014-2015 she served as Vice President, Responsible for student welfare matters at Social Sciences Student Union at Lund University.


NUS100 resources

Please take a moment to look through our latest NUS100 international resources:

International Approaches to Influencing - NUS UK is the recognised voice of students in the UK, that voice is stronger through devolved structures, liberation campaigns/sections to ensure representativeness. NUSes in the rest of the world have evolved in different ways. 

Leaving the European Union - Students’ unions asked NUS to campaign to remain members of the European Union as it was seen as overwhelmingly in the interests of our members. The challenge now is to ensure we preserve and enhance the student experience with a strong international focus.

International Mental Health Support - We know that study abroad can be highly transformative, but there are challenges in making sure that students have access to the support services they need whilst away and when they return to the UK, furthermore International students can feel isolated when studying here.

NUS100 and Learner Voice - One of the key themes of NUS100 is that the leaner voice creates change in education. It is important this will provide a framework for us to drive positive change and innovation in teaching and learning. This briefing provides some international perspective on this key theme.  


Together, Moving Forward

Together, Moving Forward is a programme to inspire and empower all involved to work together and improve the current public discourse on refugees, as well their access to education and the overall integration of our communities.  There's lots of ways you can help support the programme: 

•    Follow us on Twitter (@ESU4Refugees), and why not get busy with some retweeting action so that more people know about this? We are currently using #ESU4Refugees and #togethermovingforward as hashtags
•    Join our Facebook Group where you can access resources, join discussions, and gradually see the project develop. Invite others to join!
•    Share this one pager as a brief overview on the programme 
•    Write a short description of the programme in your newsletter and remind people of the deadline (11 January 2017, 23:59 Brussels time)
•    Drop mentions of Together, Moving Forward at your events or events you attend. Let's create a bit of a buzz, together

Thank you for your support.


Call for additional members of the Task Force on Commodification of Higher Education

The Executive Committee has decided to launch a call for additional members of the Task Force on Commodification of Higher Education. Click here for the call together with the terms of reference of the task force. 

Interested individuals should send their applications, together with a motivation letter, CV and NUS nomination by email to the ec@esu‐online.org before 23 October 2016.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact frederik.bach@esu-online.org


 

32nd European Student Convention

Student representatives from across Europe gathered in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, for their 32nd European Student Convention between 30th September and 2nd October to reflect on education and skills for the future of Europe.

The conference focused on 3 main themes: 
•    the interlinks between formal, non-formal and informal learning
•    recognition of education as an instrument to broaden participation in education and communities
•    students’ views on employability and skills policies

Through interactive workshops and informal discussions, student activists reflected, among others, on ways forward the EU New Skills Agenda for Europe and the implementation of Erasmus+ and Council of Europe’s Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic culture.

Education - between short-term interest and societal needs?
One of the recurring themes among students has been the tension between education and the labour market, as well as how formal learning and non formal learning should and could combine. A general agreement was that the role of education is to provide learners with competences and skills to understand the job and its future developments, instead of focusing on specific short-term needs of the labour market.

“We need to have a critical approach on what student and graduate data we actually need and what it is used for. There is a need for evidence-based policies, but there is also the danger of policy-based evidence. Employability should be seen as a much broader concept than preparing students for their dream job that will most likely not be stable throughout their lifetime.” says Lea Meister, President, European Students’ Union

The question of extremism and radicalisation

Although the issue may differ in nature, in many European countries the rise of radicalisation and extremism stirs the debate on the need for active citizenship education and human rights awareness. Ways to combat radicalisation bring about the debate on where to draw the line between free speech and intimidation.

“We need more transversal skills, fair recognition of skills, including those of refugees and to think more form a lifelong learning perspective. We need more flexibility in study pathways and more steps towards student-centred learning. In the future, we hope to see more cooperation among student unions across the world to advance our common student struggles.” says Blazhe Todorovski, Vice President, European Students’ Union

Background:
The European Students' Convention (ESC) is a biannual event organised 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. 

ESU usually organises the ESC in the country which is holding the presidency of the council of the European Union at that point of time, in order to create synergies with the country presidency’s priorities on education, or in another country/city with a significant relevance for Europe as a whole.

For more information, please feel free to consult the event webpage