Two weeks ago, SFS arranged the 45th edition of the European Students' Convention in Lund and Malmö. Around 130 students from all over Europe came here for five days of talks about the future of higher education in a sustainable world. Emma Svensson and Ali Al-Zargani from the SFS international committee summarize.
ESC is one of the European Students' Union, ESU's, events held once a semester with the aim of bringing together representatives from the various 45 different national umbrella bodies for student unions in 40 different European countries. The member organizations take turns hosting the event, this time it was SFS' turn to organize. The theme was "Towards sustainable societies: Student participation in higher education", which meant that several different aspects of sustainability in academia were dealt with at the convention.
The event took place in Lund and Malmö, in the premises of the university, student life and the municipality. Join us for a briefing below!
Tuesday began with opening speeches by Sweden's Minister of Education Mats Persson, SFS chairman Linn Svärd, ESU chairman Matteo Vespa and deputy rector of Lund University Lena Eskilsson. Together, we were able to start ESC 45 by directing common focus towards the theme for the days, and not least by underlining the importance of student representation in the work towards a sustainable future.
Participants then had the opportunity to listen in to a seminar with associated panel discussions about the history and future of student representation in Sweden, where we heard conversations between participants from, among others, ESU as well as representatives from some of Lund's local student unions.
During the afternoon, all participants in ESC 45 had the opportunity to get to know each other well, before it was time for the first sessions of the convention which provided a crash-course in academic freedom followed by presentations on a number of different projects that together spread the message of academic freedom, and ways to engage in this topic. One of the examples is the project "Artdemic Freedom", which spreads the message of academic freedom through art. Read more about the project at Instagram.
The first day was then rounded off with a lecture on Lund's history in Lund University's Aula before it was time for dinner together with all participants in ESC 45, representatives from Lund's local student unions, Lund University and Lund municipality.
Day two began with a bus trip from Lund to Malmö. Once in place inside the Orkanen university building, all participants were welcomed by Rebecka Lettevall, vice chancellor at Malmö University and Milena Milosavljevic, president of the Malmö student union. During the day in Malmö, the participants learned how students can take care of their health and well-being when Claes Andersson, associate professor at Malmö University, presented his work on mental illness among students.
The participants also got to listen in when Elisabet Apelmo, lecturer in social work, and Camilla Nordgren, who researches the everyday life of people with disabilities, gave a presentation on inclusion and exclusion in higher education.
During the afternoon, I, Emma Svensson, participated in a fruitful panel discussion on European university initiatives together with representatives from ESU and the university initiative 4EU.
The day then ended with a dinner at Malmö Town Hall together with representatives from a number of Malmö's local student unions.
The last day of the convention began in Lund with several sessions concerning the Bologna process and its connection to ESU's work together with the national student unions. The participants had the opportunity to understand the Bologna process, its history and how ESU is expected to work with the process in the future.
During the afternoon, sessions were then held on what the Erasmus program looks like in Europe, on student representation at the UN level in the form of the Global student forum, and finally a presentation was held by SFS vice-chairman Jacob Färnert on the student housing situation in Sweden.
The evening ended later with dinner and the traditional Intercultural night where all European countries introduce each other to their native traditional flavors in the form of food and drink.
We would like to extend a big thank you to all participants, organizers, local student unions, university employees and municipal officials for this incredibly rewarding convention where we managed to create good networks, interesting exchanges of views and inspiring discussions.
Emma Svensson and Ali Al-Zargani, members of the SFS international committee Komit