Facing the current global economic crisis and growing threats to public education at all levels, Education International salutes the student activists from 17 organisations around the world who have forged a new alliance to assert a principled and equitable approach to the challenges of higher education.
Leaders of student unions from across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and North America came together in Paris last week to prepare for the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, the single most significant world event on higher education, which will take place in July 2009. The preparatory meeting was organized by the European Students’ Union through its International Cooperation Working Group with support from UNESCO and EI.
The outcome is a Global Student Statement which, for the first time, represents a united student voice that will be heard during the World Conference.
“Education International echoes this powerful call from student leaders for greater commitment to the higher education of students globally,” said EI Deputy General Secretary Monique Fouilhoux. “It is crucial to expand access so that all students who have the desire to learn are not denied higher education because they lack the ability to pay.”
The key elements of the Global Student Statement are:
- That full investment in a higher education system for all, not the few, is a vital tool for long-term economic, social and environmental stability. It is, quite simply, a key component of sustainable development.
- For this reason, higher education must be made a policy priority and a fundamental right for all.
- Accessibility and quality must be the watchwords for global higher education and delivered hand-in-hand.
- Enrolment is just the start, however: Adequate student support measures need to be put in place to ensure that students can actually complete their studies.
- Greater measures should be put in place to enshrine and protect student rights, including an international ombudsperson for students.