In May this year the Bergen Declaration was initiatied by the Norwegian Students’ Union (NSO) and the European Students’ Union (ESU). In this declaration a statement of values for a global student voice was formulated.
Threats to education
The Bergen Declaration aims to increase cooperation between student organisations and build a network that can develop into a global movement. “The students of the world, wish to express a desire for universal cooperation in the defence of students’ rights, public tertiary education and access to education for all. Working together, through our shared principles, will ensure that globally, students voices are heard and that united we are stronger in the face of threats to our education,” the declaration says.
The student associations that range from the Russian Students’ Union to the All Burma Federation of Student Unions have chosen the 17th of November for a global call to #FundOurFuture. “A global approach to our collective action offers us a chance to unite under a shared goal. With extended solidarity across borders we can take part in the fight for a better future held by students everywhere.”
Around the globe, students are signalling trends like increasing commodification and privatisation of our public education systems, the introduction or raising of tuition fees, the removal or decrease of grants and bursaries, the removal of the targeted support to those most in need and cuts to public expenditure on education.
The students want to make governments aware that “with the increasing commodification and commercialisation of education there will be an increase in competition within institutions, leading to a shift in focus from the quality of education and research to the quantity and rate of graduation, without thought toward students’ well-being.”
Therefore students need to unite, the student associations say. “The role of students is not to enrich their universities – it is the role of universities to enrich their students. Faced with attacks on the accessibility, affordability, and quality of higher education in nations across the globe, student solidarity has become imperative.”