La Convention des Etudiants Européens
European Convention of Students- Conclusions of the Education Workshop
Building an Educational Europe
In a context of globalisation and growing international competition,
European education systems are being tested. The Lisbon European Council
has set an ambitious goal for the Union : " to become the most
competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable
of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social
cohesion ". Europe must face up to this transformation in conformity
with its values. Yet in WTO negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade
of Services (GATS), education will be considered a commercial good. Confronted
to this threat, the European Union must engage in vigorous action in order
to meet challenges that isolated States will remain powerless to address.
Europe is rich with original educational models, which the Community must
endeavour to protect while remedying the growing problems they encounter.
What is at stake here is the building of a European model, respecting
diversity and national distinctive features, based on common rules and
principles, and defining education as a public good. For that purpose,
we advocate a proposal to modify article 149 of the European Community
Treaty, enabling to launch necessary action on the Community level.
New Article 149 of EC Treaty
- The Community shall encourage the development of European citizenship by defining a European model of education. It shall work through its education policy for the social welfare and civic cohesion of the peoples of the European Union, while fully respecting the diversity of cultures and education methods of each Member State. For that purpose :
- The Community shall contribute to the development of quality education, which every citizen of the Union is entitled to according to the principle of equality of opportunity. It shall define education as a public good, not a commercial service.
- It shall aim at building a Europe of knowledge, and contribute to reinforce the intellectual, cultural, social et technical dimensions of our continent, heir to a large academic tradition.
- In order to meet the necessities of an internationalised economy, it shall reinforce the attractiveness of its education and university system, and foster transition towards a knowledge-based economy.
2. Community action shall be aimed at :
a. developing the European dimension in education in the whole Union
The Community shall participate in devising, along with Member States and the establishments involved, Europe-centred courses in higher education, under the form of modules which may be included in existing programs, and degrees of specific European dimension, recognized on a Community level.
It shall foster cooperation between primary and secondary educational establishments and between Member States, in order to develop youth exchanges. It shall contribute to establishing projects associating students and teachers to the development of the European dimension in education. It shall participate in the definition and implementation of courses concerning European cultures and history.
It shall protect diversity of languages. It shall guarantee the obligation for each Member State to provide learning of two foreign languages during all or part of the compulsory schooling period. It shall encourage the development of plurilinguism, setting as an objective the mastery of two European languages by a majority as large as possible of pupils and students.
b. setting up a european space of higher education
The Community shall guarantee free student mobility, aiming to give every student the possibility to spend one semester of studies in another country of the Union or the Council of Europe, through the development of the ERASMUS programme and particularly mobility grants that must cover the overexpenses due to studying abroad. Simultaneously, it develops faculty mobility through reinforcing exchange programs.
It shall foster the lisibility of degrees. For that purpose, it shall set up a Community recognition of higher education degrees, in cooperation with Member States, and encourage the adoption of the European Credit Transfer System and of common names for equivalent degrees, while respecting the distinctive features of national education systems. It shall encourage the organisation of a European space of higher education in three main levels, the Bachelor, Master and Doctor degrees. It shall work for the recognition of European degrees on the labor market.
It shall create a European agency for quality assurance in higher education, controlling the quality of courses, the conditions of study, the respect of European objectives. Its conclusions shall be made public and may be supplemented with recommendations to Member States and the establishments concerned.
c. permitting substantial equality of opportunities so that everyone can fully realize its potential
The Community shall contribute to financing educational establishments in order to promote quality in education and implement genuine European solidarity, through an Education Cohesion Fund, so as to avoid widening inequalities before education.
It shall recognize to users of higher education establishments a specific status, and make sure that everyone have a right to social protection, aid for accomodation, and financial aid guaranteeing an individual right to pursue the studies of one's choice when academic results allow it. It shall thus define a student status that Member States are required to guarantee.
It shall guarantee a right to access to higher education to the holders of national degrees equivalent to a European first university level, obtained at the end of secondary education, defined in cooperation with Member States. It shall set a maximum limit of yearly tuition fees, valid in all degrees recognized on a Community level.
d. improving the European model of education's attractiveness and competitiveness
In a context of growing international competition, the Community shall prepare to a transition towards a society and an economy based on knowledge. It shall aim at the global elevation of the qualification level and development of the necessary skills. It shall foster the attractiveness of the European space of higher education and the worldwide recognition of its degrees.
In cooperation with Member States and the establishments involved, in connection with its research policy, it shall participate in devising and financing European Excellence University Networks. These networks shall link together high level establishments choosing in one or several disciplines to pool their academic resources and faculty, to develop common programs and degrees, to multiply exchange between their students. It shall ensure that the conditions of access to these programs respect the principle of equality of opportunity and foster democratic recruiting.
3. The Community and Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the field of education, particularly the Council of Europe.
4. In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred
to in this Article, the Council :
- acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in article 251, after consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions, as well as representative organizations of students, teachers and university rectors, regulations and directives.
- acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.
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