http://direct.europe.bg/upload/docs/council_of_europe_logo1.jpgOn 8-9 December in Aghveran, Armenia, a Bologna Seminar on student participation in higher education governance was co-organised by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, the European Students’ Union and the Council of Europe.
The objective of the seminar was to look into topical issues of student participation in higher education governance and quality assurance, from institutional to national and international levels, outlining the main problems and obstacles, looking for examples of good practice and proposing a way forward.
Background
Student participation in the governance of higher education is an important part of the European Higher Education Area. At the ministerial meeting in Prague in May 2001 the ministers put increased emphasis on student participation by underlining that “students are full members of the higher education community” and through the recognition of students as “competent, active and constructive partners” in the establishment and shaping of the European Higher Education Area. Ministers affirmed that students should participate in and influence the organization and content of education at universities and other higher education institutions. At the ministerial meeting in Berlin in September 2003 the ministers acknowledged that ‘students are full partners in higher education governance. Ministers note that national legal measures for ensuring student participation are largely in place throughout the European Higher Education Area. They also call on institutions and student organizations to identify ways of increasing actual student involvement in higher education governance”.
Since then the importance of student participation has been reaffirmed in most official Bologna documents. At the Budapest-Vienna ministerial meeting in May 2010, which established the European Higher Education Area the ministers stated that they ‘fully support staff and student participation in decision-making structures at European, national and institutional levels’. And yet at its 21st European Students’ Convention (ESC) on 18 February 2011 the ESU’s Chairperson, Bert Vandenkendelaere said: “A promise of the Bologna Process Framework was that students would be recognized as equal partners and involved at every level of decision making. Sadly enough this is, ten years after this promise was made, still non-existent. In no European country, students are involved at every level.”
So, what went wrong?

The objective of the Bologna seminar, which will take place on 8 and 9 December 2011 in Aghveran will be to look into the current (burning) issues of student participation in higher education governance, from institutional to national and international levels, outlining the main problems and obstacles, looking for examples of good practice and proposing a way forward. Participants: this seminar will around gather 100 policy-makers, representatives of higher education institutions, decision makers, staff and students. It is open to all 47 countries of the European Higher Education Area.