Focus session: student participation in U!REKA

4 Jul 2022 12:26 | Communication

During the U!REKA 2022 Conference, students from HOGENT, Lisbon and Frankfurt were joined by teaching and administrative staff from U!REKA partner institutions to discuss student participation within the partnership during a focus session called ‘Student participation in U!REKA. What?!’

Emilia Bergans, HOGENT Student Council presented a case study on the HOGENT Student Council, showing how student participation has been significantly increased.

'The organisation was literally transformed. It was previously unknown, unpopular and lacking in support. Not surprisingly student participation was low. After having been given a complete makeover to create a whole new image, the student council, known as Revolte, now enjoys a very different quality and feel to it. With the help of material support, staff and coaching, student interest and participation is growing fast!'
To find out more about this impressive turn-around please contact Emilia Bergans.

Turning to U!REKA – questions were raised as to how to increase student participation both in terms of activities and in the decision making processes.

Participants exchanged their own impressions and experiences of U!REKA activities. There was positive feedback from students in Frankfurt for example, who described their participation in a summer school organised within the framework of the U!REKA Urban Commons LAB. This event brought together international and interdisciplinary students, teachers and researchers from the participating universities for an intensive exchange on the concept and practices of urban commons and communing. In this case students were also involved in some of the planning and organisation; by all accounts a very rewarding experience!

Tiago Diniz, from the Politécnico de Lisboa Student Council, citing his own experience and the important role students have in Lisbon in the democratic decision-making bodies, would like to see a more structured approach to student representation within the network. In general he was enthusiastic about the partnership and would welcome more student participation in U!REKA activities.

Proposals to increase student participation in the future include:

  1. Communication
  • Overall, students present agreed that it is important to boost visibility and that more action is required.
  • Look at how best to package information and use the right channels. Involve students in developing digital formats. ‘By students for students’ could be more effective than the Top-down approach.
  • Include U!REKA in the Welcome Pack for new students / Barcode.

  1. Activities
  • Make more use of the BIP Blended Intensive Programme (ERASMUS +) format to bring together students from a minimum of 3 U!REKA Partners for a possible 5 day event and secure funding, time and credits.
  • More Internationalisation at home initiatives e.g. COIL
  • Organise regular student forums – follow up on the 2021 digital exchange forum - to provide feedback and make proposals that can help shape future student activities.
  • Build on the success of U!REKA LABS, that have proven to be a good format in the past, facilitating many student-based activities.

  1. Representation: increasing student participation in the decision-making process.
  • Explore possibilities for student participation in U!REKA working groups?
  • UREKA Labs as a platform in the future for a more ‘Bottom-Up’ approach to planning activities.
  • Organise annual student forum/workshop to provide important feedback and make proposals that can contribute to the Annual Plan.