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Europe: focus on outcome not income says ESU

Over 100 student representatives from 39 countries in Europe are calling on higher education institutions to stop treating international students as a source of revenue and better support their place in society.

The 26th European Students Convention was organised by ESU, representing 47 national unions of students, and streamed live online

“We urge European policymakers to take our opinions seriously into account when they continue their work on developing policy"

The European Students Union, which represents over 11 million students around the continent, made its voice heard at the 26th European Students Convention, where 47 student unions met with industry experts in Kaunas, Lithuania to discuss the overarching theme ‘Internationalisation of the European Higher Education Area.’

Delegates representing National Unions of Students drafted a declaration that will be presented on 25 November

“This was a challenging event for us, though we believe it was a successful one,” said Paulius Baltokas, President of the Lithuanian National Union of Students. “Equal access to mobility for all groups of students is the main topic to focus on, when we are dealing with internationalisation.”

The call for ethical consideration of European student mobility in HE came in response to a European Commission report ‘European Higher Education in the World,” which highlights the need to focus on internationalisation strategies including setting up two-way mobility schemes with non-EU countries.

The document bases these priorities on the “positive economic impact” international students have on their host countries, detailing how popular destination countries such as the UK and Australia earned an income of £8.25 billion and AUD$15.5 billion, three years ago.

“We urge European policymakers to take our opinions seriously into account when they continue their work on developing a policy for the internationalisation of higher education. Students are the main stakeholders in the process and should be recognised as such,” said Rok Primozic, Chairperson of the European Students Union.

Delegates representing National Unions of Students drafted a declaration that will be presented on 25 November at a European Students Union board meeting in Croatia.

Sessions organised during the convention, which was also broadcast live on the internet for the first time, included MOOCs, student mobility, quality assurance and the social dimension in the internationalisation of higher education.

Europe currently attracts 45% of the international student populace, which is expected to grow from four million to seven million by the end of the decade.

Earlier this year, the European Migrant Network said the number of international students in the European Union rose 114% between 2000 and 2010, making it the number one region for study abroad worldwide.

The students’ convention is organised every six months. This time, it was held in the second largest city of Lithuania, Kaunas, in conjunction with Lithuania’s Presidency to the Council of the European Union.

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