COUNCIL OF EUROPE Directorate of School, Out-Of-School And Higher Education, Higher Education and Research Division and PEOPLES’ FRIENDSHIP UNIVERSITY OF RUSSIA INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR MAKING THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA A REALITY: THE ROLE OF STUDENTS Making Higher Education Area a Reality: Role of Student Organizations by Tatsiana Khoma ESIB – the National Unions of Students in Europe Moscow, November 2-3, 2006 ESIB – the National Unions of Students in Europe ● ● 45 member National Unions of Students from 34 countries in Europe Representing more than 10 mln European Students ● Was founded in 1982 to promote the educational, economic, cultural, social and political interests of students in Europe Role of Student Organizations ● ● ● ● ● Role of students and student organizations; Areas of student interest; Areas of ESIB concern; Criteria for student organizations; Conclusions. Role of Students ● Students are... ● ● biggest stakeholder in higher education center of the learning process: no students – no universities ● Factor of innovation, growth and development ● Investment of the society its the future ● promoters of active citizenship, equality, democracy and the rule of law European Students Rights Charter – Student Involvement ● ● ● ● ● ● ... the right to organize themselves freely in legally recognized entities... ... right to participate in all decision-making bodies and for a relevant to their education... ... the right to be informed about all higher education affairs in a transparent manner... ... the right to have their opinion considered as that of an equal stakeholder in higher education... ... right to freely express themselves and this should not be limited to academic matters... ... the right to participate as equal partners in continual assessment Student organizations are... ● ● ... the point of reference for student interests for non-student actors in student related issue ... central actor in a round-table on everything related to students Areas of interest Students' rights Governance in Higher Education Students' well-being Quality assurance Students' mobility Equality within higher education Reforms of HE and processes bringing changes (BP, LP, etc.) Etc... Students' Rights Overarching issue Making students' rights legal at both national and European level European Students' Rights Charter Draft document can be found at www.esib.org Students Well-being Reaching optimal study conditions for all students; Is an issue of mutual interest for students and the society; One of the central focus for student organizations at all level. Governance and decision-making “Efficiency in governance structures might be a useful goal, but efficiency must never mean that students, teachers and staff are being excluded in favour of corporate steering models for universities and polytechnics. Furthermore, the autonomy of institutions should be designed in a way that gives a collective responsibility to all stakeholders of the higher education community, not by transferring all decision-making powers to the university leadership.” Governance and decision-making Lack of legal regulations for actual student involvement, not only consultative roles; Lack of student involvement in formal bodies that prepare decisions; Students are not or less involved in topics related to finances, hiring of staff, follow up of evaluation results, issues related to study environment, etc.; Mentality of other stakeholders who are not used or willing to consider students as equal partners but rather as mere users whose opinions hardly count; Unwillingness of governments and/or HEIs to value the opinion of students if they are different from their own; Lack of financial and human resources of student unions and representatives. Quality Assurance Students demands to quality... ... study programs that are flexible in their organization and possibilities of individual choices ... properly working instruments allowing for full recognition of their qualifications and competences ... study programs being meaningful Student participation in QA: Bologna with student eyes, 2005 Criteria for student organizations be open to all students; democratic in their structure and in their principles; run by students; independent and accountable to students they represent. Conclusions Role of student organizations as student representatives is crucial; More transparency and inclusion of students into decision-making and quality assurance is needed; Idea of partnership between all stakeholders is a key to success; Student organizations should be supported and not prohibited from their activity. Thank you for your attention!