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Press release of VSS-UNES-USU, 03.05.2014

Yesterday night, the Board of the European Students’ Union ESU elected VSS-UNES-USU’s EC member Lea Meister to its own EC. The Swiss Students’ Union full-heartedly congratulates Lea. We are sure that ESU will profit from her vast and unique experience.

Since last autumn, Lea is a member of VSS’ executive committee and our international officer. Before that, she was the co-president of our Committee on International Affairs and Solidarity. She represented VSS-UNES-USU in ESU’s board since 2010 and was a member of the Swiss rectors’ associations’ bologna expert group. Previously, she was co-president of our Basel member union skuba and her programme’s students’ council.

VSS-UNES-USU loses an incredibly motivated and capable EC member. At the same time, we are delighted that Lea will now represent the students of all of Europe.

VSS-UNES-USU congratulates all new and returning Executive members. Elisabeth Gehrke (Sweden) was elected Chairperson of ESU. Erin Nordal (Norway) and Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares (Spain) will support her as Vice-Chairs. The other elected Executive Committee members are Blazhe Todorovski  (Macedonia), Maksim Milito (Lithuania), Cat O’Driscoll (Ireland), Karolina Pietkiewicz (Poland), Tiago Estêvão (Portugal), Tijana Isoski (Serbia), and Lea Meister from Switzerland.  We are sure that they will continue their great work and lead ESU into the future. The new EC will begin its work on July 1st.

ESU is the umbrella organization of 47 students’ unions in 39 countries. ESU represents students towards the European Union, the Council of Europe, Unesco and in the Bologna process. Through its members ESU represents 11 Million students. In some projects and thematic priorities ESU works, for example, on the students’ view on quality assurance and the development of new teaching methods in higher education.

Press Release, 16th of April 2014

Today’s decision of the Swiss Federal Council regarding the financing of the Swiss participation in the Erasmus+ student exchange programme pleases the Swiss students’ union VSS-UNES-USU. Negociations concerning a full Swiss participation are suspended after the referendum on mass migration from February 2014. Switzerland has to fully finance its outgoing and incoming students for at least the next academic year. But the decision does not answer all open questions.

The 22.7 Million Swiss Francs that the Federal Council assigned today will assure the financing of the Swiss participation in the european educational exchange programmes. VSS-UNES-USU is delighted that the Federal Council takes the students’ mobility and the internationality of the Swiss higher education area seriously. But some concerns remain.

Swiss higher education institutions have to renegociate every Erasmus agreement with their foreign partner institutions. It is already known that not all partnerships were renewed. Especially the important and popular institutions did not agree with continuing the exchange under the new circumstances.

Another concern is that the Federal Council’s statement does not make clear how the money will be exactly spent. Only when its distribution becomes clear and when it is finally assured that all incoming and outgoing students will have assured funding for their exchange calm can finally return to students’ exchange again.

Finally, VSS-UNES-USU is astonished how slowly the Federal Council reacted. In February, it became clear that the negociations will be suspended. On the 7th of March, he communicated that the administration will develop a transitional solution. It is incomprehensible that it took them five weeks, especially given the extraordinary importance of the affair for universities and students.

VSS-UNES-USU appreciates today’s decision for financing the exchange programmes. But we demand that the details are communicated now as well and that the Federal Council presents an interim solution for 2015 which they could enact fast if the negociations for a Swiss participation then would also fail. It may not happen again that the students are left in uncertainty again for several months. But the full Swiss participation in the Erasmus+ programme must remain the goal.

If you have further questions, please contact Dominik fitze or Mélanie Glayre.