February 2003 - Welcome to the European Students Union

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February 2003 - Welcome to the European Students Union ...


    The National Unions of Students in Europe

    Avenue De la Toison d’Or 17A box 80, 1050 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32(0)2 502 23 62; fax: +32(0)2 511 78 06

    ESIB Committee on Commodification of


    Newsletter February 2003


     st1. The 1 European Social Forum

    2. ESF Education Charter th3. The European GATS action day 13 March

    4. A Brighter turn in GATS negotiations

    5. Skeria Symposium

    6. Recent CoCo meetings

     st1 European Social Forum

     ththThe first ESF took place in Florence between the 6 and 10 of November. ESIB had been part of

    the preparation process and had been actively involved in the planning of the education meetings through some CoCo and the member organisations from Austria, Italy and France. Esib organised and participated to two seminars, together with other organisations:

    1. Education is not a commodity (more than 1000 participants)

    2. Knowledge and citizenship: Means for a democratic development (150 participants) thOn Friday, November 8, in the morning Bettina Schwarzmayr spoke for ESIB on the plenary on Privatisation of Public Services. Her speech can be found on The plenary was at-

    tended by some 1500 people.

    Esib also organised and participated to two gatherings:

    1. an assembly of teachers, students and pupils about future joint campaign work, (250 people

    from all over Europe). The plenary agreed on a number of principles on education, which

    were put into a charter

    2. a meeting of students (200 student activists from all over Europe, including Germany, Italy,

    France, UK, Greece, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Hungary, Den-

    mark, the Netherlands and others. The meeting agreed on a European student action day thagainst commodification of education and for the rights of students on March 13 2003.

    The slogan for this day will be “education- not profit”, which is also the slogan of the

    stickers produced by ESIB and OH.

    During the final plenary of the European Social Forum, Francesca D’Ingianna presented the results reached in the student group and the charter done together with the teachers. The final plenary was attended by 5000 people.

    Next European Social Forum will be held in Paris-St. Denis and Unef is directly involved in the organisation of the whole event. CoCo members continues looking after the process, attending the preparatory meetings or being in touch with unions people who can attend them.

Education Charter - ESF Florence 2002

    Principles, which must guide our actions and which must guide our the construction of the Europe of Education:

    1. Education is a right, not a commodity. Education must be a public service, free and secular.

    Its financing must be public.

    2. The mission of education is to educate, form and qualify workers, citizens and humans.

    Economic profits must not guide its objectives. Education also has a role of fostering social


    3. Research and knowledge must develop in all fields in freedom and must respond to the

    needs of societies.

    4. Education must also allow the success of a greater number of people. The democratisation

    of Education systems is necessary all over Europe. The raising of the general level of educa-

    tion must be an objective.

    5. Against the logic of deregulation and “competencies” for “employability”. It is necessary to

    promote qualifications recognised by all in Europe.

    6. Lifelong Learning is a right for all workers and citizens.

    These principles force us to place education at the heart of the construction of Europe for an other globalisation. The next ESF must give a more important place to education. We will participate in campaigns for an other Europe in the world. We will support and carry out joint campaigns on the European level to defend our vision of the Europe of Education.

    The main principles of these campaigns are:

    ; Education for all

    ; democratisation of the education systems

    ; the rejection of the integration of education into the fields of trade liberalisation- No to


     thWe therefore call upon the education community for a day of action in Europe on March 13 2003

    against GATS and for public education under the motto “Education not profit”. We also want to prepare the next meeting of education ministers in Berlin in 2003 about the process of European educational integration.

     thEducation not profit - Action day against education in Gats - 13 march 2003

March 2003 will be very important for Gats negotiations: by the end of this month the EU will stmake final decision about it as on the 31 of march there must be the presentation of the EU list of

    offers to the WTO. A lot of organisations within the social movements are mobilizing against thGATS during march: a European demonstration will be held in Brussels on 9 march, Attac Europe thdecide13 march a day against privatisation of public services, ect.

    During the discussions ESF the need for a common struggle of European students to raise the spe-cific danger for education in gats was felt as a priority for all the participants. So, a student day of thaction against commodification of education was agreed to be organised on 13 March.

    The idea is to make all students in Europe to stand up together at the same moment (or around that day). Every student group or union should find a way best suited to their own culture (assemblies, seminars, symbolic actions, press conferences, meetings, strikes, demonstrations, or any other kind of event even organised with other parts of civil society if preferred) in their country at national or local level to bring up the student voice into the discussion on GATS and education. At the World Social Forum, during the student assembly held in Porto Alegre in January 2003, students from the rest of the world welcomed the idea of a common struggle day and March 2003

    was declared as month of student actions against gats and commodification of education. We al-ready have news from OCLAE and some Canadian and Asian students organising mobilisation about the same topic.

    A mailing list of the participants of the European student gathering has been created to facilitate communication among students about what they are organizing to exchange ideas and as an infor-mation flow. All student unions and individuals are invited to join it and give their input. The web page of the mailing-list group is:

    to subscribe:

    to send messages:

    Esib will facilitate the event also through its web site, signalling what student all over Europe will organised and media coverage of the events. For any information, clarification or help contact CoCo responsible for the action day, Francesca D’Ingianna (mail: )

Brighter Turn on EU-GATS negotiations

    The European Commission announced in the beginning of February that according to the EU draft GATS offers EU will not be making any offers on four service sectors on the current round of nego-tiations. Those service sectors considered as central public services are education, health, water and energy. This of course is very good news for all those organizations and individuals who have cam-paigned to get education excluded of the GATS-negotiations and CoCo is sure we are all happy celebrate this just a bit in Athens ;.

    However, despite these good news, our concern is far from over. First of all, EU has already made quite substantial commitments on education on the previous Uruguay round and there is still a pres-sure for those EU countries that did not make any commitments on the previous round to meet the same commitments. Furthermore, given the narrow definition of public services in the GATS treaty, it?s not certain that in any country where HEI`s receive public as well as private funds, public edu-cation is not already at risk to fall under the GATS regime if private higher education is committed. Also, there is still over two years until the negotiations are finished and a lot can happen before that. Making as big demands and as small offers as possible in the beginning seems to be part of the game. And finally, according to the logic of progressive liberalization of the GATS, issues left out this time might be back on the agenda on the next round.

Skeria Symposium

    ESIB/Jakob Henricsson organized a symposium at Skeria ( branch campus between Luleå and Umeå University) in Skellefteå, Sweden in December 2001, since then ESIB have wanted to something similar on a different topic and a little bigger. In October ESIB discussed it and came up with a proposal for a new symposium on a topic we think is very important right now for many stakeholders. Kristina together with CoCo made a proposal to Skeria which was presented to them by Kristina in Skelleftå in December. They liked the idea and agreed to host a new symposium. Since December Kristina is now working for them planning the symposium; content, speakers, par-ticipants aims and goals etc. After some meetings and discussions everything is clear and we secured the funding. The topic of the symposium is " Globalization & Trade of Education and the effect on regional development" ( mainly economical and democracy aspects) The aim is to gather a wide variety of different stakeholders that work with the topic to discuss the various aspects, UNESCO, CEPES, IE, EUA, ESIB, CoE, experts, ENQA, ACA, ETUCE,QAA European commis-sion, parliament, OECD, ECStA. ESIB will be represented by EC, CoCo and BPC. Unfortunately this time there is no possibility to invite ESIB members to attend the seminar.

    CoCo and EC have already discussed the seminar with many of the external partners mentioned above and the response has been very positive. The planned schedule is for the seminar to last Thursday - Friday 20-21/3, including speeches from different actors representing different organiza-tions and stakeholders and addressing different perspectives on the topic. There will also be room for questions and shorter discussions. This session is open for all, international participants, Swed-ish government reps, students, local & regional governments, researchers, rectors etc. Friday afternoon there will be a press conference, the discussion about this has just started in Sweden and we hope to get some media attention and to be able to put ESIB and the topic on the agenda. On Saturday 22/3 there will be workshops. This part is open for international participants, ESIB and a few Swedish representatives from ministry and research. Each workshop should be as diverse as possible and discuss the same questions - these questions will be send out in advance. The aim is to have structured but open workshops. For us this is very important part of the symposium and is why we decided to have them all day Saturday. We feel that these are issues that have not, but need to be discusses between various actors in smaller groups and in a less "formal" way. Workshops consist-ing of as varied actors as possible. We have also heard this from many others and is a reason why we decided to organize the symposium. On Sunday 23/3 the outcomes will be presented and dis-cussed Kristina will act as the head raporteur for the symposium, and the aim and one of the aims of the symposium is to have a report by mid April that can be used for future discussion and work on the issue and to be distributed. During the weekend there will also be time for people to have other discussion ore meetings if needed. We have a big part of the main campus and the hotel. The issues discussed with the participants will include some of the upcoming events such as the GATS dead-lines, Bologna meeting in Berlin etc. If ESIB wants to have other meetings and discussions during the weekend there will be room for that. The ESIB representatives will also stay a day extra to have a joint meeting on Sunday to prepare for the next board meeting and to discuss current issues.

    Since Kristina started working on this in December the response has been good and so far things are going according to plan. Hopefully this symposium will lead to a better dialog and cooperation between the different actors on this topic, create new contacts and give important inputs and new opportunities for CoCo in our work with commodification of education and for ESIB as a whole.

Recent CoCo-meetings

    Two recent CoCo meetings were organized in order to prepare the Transnational Education hand-book to be published in March 2003. The first preparatory meeting took place in Brussels, Belgium ththstrdon 11 to 15 December 2002 and the second one in Rome, Italy on 31 January to 3 February

    2003. Minutes from these meetings can be found on the closed section of the website. In these two meetings the content of the TNE handbook was discussed and responsibilities for writing the chap-ters divided amongst CoCo members. External contributions were asked from following partners: Monique Fouilhoux (Education International), Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic (UNESCO), Andree Sur-sock (EUA) and Ulf Öhlund (Högskoleverket, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education).

    We were also able to organize some external meetings at the same time as the CoCo-meeting. In Brussels we had a joint meeting with some of our most important organizational partners in our campaign against HE in GATS such as Jörgen Lindholm (ETUCE), Monique Fouilhoux (EI) along with some other representatives of Education International, Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic (UNESCO) and Carolyn Campbell (QAA). Latest information about the progress of the GATS negotiations were exchanged and we urge anyone interested in the GATS debate to visit the WTO-GATS section of the EI website ( -> action-> WTO and GATS). Also a joint initiative was planned

    to be taken by the international and regional student unions as well as EI and some other organiza-tions. The idea was to draft a set of questions for the WTO regarding the ongoing negotiations to make further commitments on HE within GATS and its possible impact on higher education. The actual questions were drafted in January in Paris during the UNESCO NGO meeting and will be

sent later to the WTO secretariat.

    We were also able to organize a meeting with a green MEP Caroline Lucas who was a central figure behind the petition of MEP’s and national MP’s against inclusion of education into GATS. We in-

    troduced ESIB actions on GATS and discussed our shared concerns with her. The last of this set of meeting in Brussels was set up with Roger O’Keeffe, Principal Administrator from European Commission’s DG Education responsible for stakeholder contacts. The aim of the meeting was to discuss some of our concerns regarding GATS and to establish contacts with the EC DG education also on the GATS issue.

    The CoCo-meeting in Italy was organized in connection to the UDU General Assembly taking place in Rome 31.1.-2.2. We has a chance to participate UDU’s International working group meeting and

    a plenary session to present ESIB and its work, as well as our specific activities in GATS and com-rdmodification issues. On Monday 3 February a separate meeting was organized with the

    representatives of UDU’s new EC: Luca D’Innocenzo (chairperson), Ilaria Lani (vice-chair)and thMarzia Foroni (international officer), to discuss and plan the upcoming 6 European Student Con-

    vention in Italy next Autumn. As it seems for the moment, the convention will take place in Palermo in October and will concentrate on discussing the future of the European higher education and its civic, social and economic roles in the context of the specific processes of Bologna, GATS and Lisbon.

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