Dear students and fellow Europeans,
Education is the most potent answer to bring about a tolerant and respectful society. Europe's future relies on citizens who will respect human rights and banish prejudice, hatred, and racism. It is imperative to enable the continent's youth to experience Europe in all its beauty and diversity.
Meeting people with different cultural backgrounds and staying in their home countries encourages tolerance, respect, and understanding. The Human Rights Declaration (§26, par. 2) states that education shall promote "understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups" it is thus necessary to develop student mobility into an integral element of our educational systems so that young people will learn not only about economics, literature or sciences but also - and just as importantly - about each other's thoughts, values and traditions.
We believe that student mobility is thus a fundamental element in assuring the sustainability of the European project and of European societies as a whole. There needs to be time and space to gain a practical understanding of Europe's core values, which in turn will empower young people to find a common European identity.
In 1999, 27 European Ministers of Education signed the Bologna declaration and created the European Higher Education Area to increase border-crossing mobility and employability. Meanwhile, there are 47 countries participating in the Bologna process. Twelve years after its implementation a great deal has been achieved in changing degree structures and furthering Europe's capacity to compete for overseas fee-paying students, but the student mobility has not received the boost many would have expected, neither quantitatively nor qualitatively. Student mobility is still reserved to only a handful of students, remains socially selective, and those who had the chance to study abroad for a semester or a year still face recognition and replacement problems after the exchange period.
Today, neither political nor geographical boundaries exist any longer in the EU. It is about time for all activists and those responsible to tear down all socio-economic barriers that hinder the achieving and surpassing the objective of having 20% of all European students become mobile no later than 2020.
We therefore call upon politicians, rectors, economic agents, and the society at large to work together for furthering support for student mobility!
- National Governments and the European Commission must rethink the financing of mobility: available grants are locked into national structures that do not account for the imbalance in the demand for mobility across the continent nor take the difference of living costs in its fullest consideration. Grant mechanisms should be made more flexible and they must not, under any circumstance, privilege shorter stay instead of longer and more exchanges.
- Higher Education Institutions must take more institutional responsibility for furthering mobility, notably as far as curricular design is concerned. Flexible curricular pathways lend themselves to studies abroad much more than strictly and densely packaged curricula. A European Code of Best Practices on course design could further the adoption of "mobility windows" and enable the establishment of a threshold of optional courses.
- The European Commission and the European Parliament must put more emphasis on the quality of credit mobility, notably with respect to recognition. A positive step would be to appoint an Ombudsman able and willing to take legal action to defend students whose Learning Agreements have not been fully respected.
Campus Europae Student Council
Erasmus Student Network