02 September 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Global student union to be formed
Student groups from around the world met on the margins of the World Conference on Higher Education with the aim of establishing a global student organisation that could become a powerful lobbying force to advance the student perspective at international education meetings.

"We have not yet formalised our cooperation into a global union but have discussed how we will cooperate further and eventually set up an organisation at a world meeting to be announced for next year," said Ligia Decca, Chair of the European Students Union.

Another student delegate said an increasingly globalised higher education sector required a global student response. One of the priorities for a worldwide grouping would be to issue a set of "student rights" that should be taken into account when policy makers speak of education.

"At the meeting here we have been working towards agreement on rights of students that can be considered truly global," Decca said.

Students issued a joint statement to the conference stating that "higher education needs to be a priority and made a fundamental right for all," and calling for the "robust protection and propagation of student rights".

This would include "the right to freely speak out and criticise teachers, rectors, ministers or other actors in higher education without fear of retribution."

Oludare Ogunlana, Secretary General of the All-African students union said, "The right to access education in terms of funding and to finish education is a basic student right."

Student also had a right to quality education, Ogunlana said, so quality assurance was an important issue for students.

Student unions also proposed a worldwide ombudsperson office to handle student complaints to be established under the UNESCO umbrella. Its remit would be to "resolve conflicts related to principles and values of higher education". Universities and education ministries would have to state a willingness to work with a global ombudsperson.

The student groupsincluded the ESU, the All African Students Union, the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Organisation of Latin American and Caribbean Students, along with students unions from Australia, New Zealand and the US, plus groupings of Catholic students, medical students and students of law.

The groups said that the human right to free association was "too often breached in the higher education sphere". They said the next global meeting of student unions was likely to be in Latin America, probably Mexico, to further build an internationally representative organisation.

Ogunlana said a previous global students' union, the International Students Union, had existed since the 1940s with headquarters in Prague but it had been inactive since its last congress in Libya in 2000 because of lack of funding.


"Tuition's too high! There's not enough parking!" I think that sums up the platform for every student union does it not?

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