Between governance and the Alliances’ future, the point of view of students

By Tanguy Guibert, Vice-President of the European Students’ Union (ESU)


On the 22nd of May 2024, the 33rd EURASHE Annual Conference gave full spotlight to the students and their experience in regards to European Universities Alliances in front of an audience of EURASHE members’ representatives. Two main important topics of the moment were discussed: student representation in Alliances and the future of these Alliances.

Of course, our main and more pressing demand is democratic student participation in all Alliances. We are still far from this. The European student movement is requiring guidelines from the Commission, but the effort also has to come from the higher education institutions themselves. This is why our participation in this kind of events is important: to raise awareness directly towards some of the stakeholders that can make a difference.

A fully-fledged, meaningful role within the governance of the Alliances is also key for the students’ representation. Student representatives have to be fully integrated in the decision-making process of the Alliances, otherwise it’s nothing more than a Rector’s club conference. You would not imagine the governance of your higher education institution without student representation. This is the same thing, but at European level.

Now that the oldest Alliances entered their final phase and the new ones take inspiration from them, the question of reaching out to the whole student population has become more and more core. How could an Alliance be considered sustainable if they keep reaching the same student population? Alliances should have the high ambition of being for all students. This has led us to how to ensure a future to the initiative. As exciting as it is to look into the future, it is first important to acknowledge the state of the art and how we could move with what we have and what is expected to come. I will focus on two points here:

The first one is the role of the legal status for Alliances. At the moment, Alliances are a project-based initiative—meaning that at the end of the contract, the question of how they can ensure their own future will dominate. There are national possibilities and European options. But the results of the pilot projects on the legal status all state the same: this is not enough, there is a need for more! This brings then the question of how it will be possible regarding the current state of the Treaties?

Finally, the most important key component: the need for sustainable European funding. The Commission is working on a financial plan, which is a good message. Now the plan needs to fit the ambitions of the initiative! We are happy, in ESU, to be involved in the proposal from Campus France to work on how EU Member States can be involved in the future of funding. ESU remains firm on our position: an EU initiative should be funded by the EU. This is also the best way to ensure that all Alliances receive equitable funding, and that they are not dependent on the countries involved in the Alliances. Luck is not a convincing tool.

As a conclusion, I would like to remind readers of this idea coming from Pedro Teixeira’s keynote speech at the EURASHE Conference: how long will the momentum surrounding Alliances last? How can we make sure it will last? If we collectively want the answer to be yes, then we should all work together, without excluding anyone, especially not students and their representatives.

Students in universities alliances

Image: Panel discussion on student representation in European Universities Alliances at the EURASHE 33rd Annual Conference, 22 May 2024. From left to right: Sukh Preet Singh (U!REKA), Denis Hardi (RUN-EU), Karina Anna Lapina (E³UDRES²), Tanguy Guibert (ESU), and Dora Crisan (evozon).

Tanguy Guibert

Tanguy Guibert

Vice-President, European Students’ Union

Tanguy is 27, comes from France and studies international political science at University Paris Est Créteil. He joined the student movement in France seven years ago and now serves as Vice-President of ESU. He is working on the European Education Area, Internationalisation and Mobility and Sustainability.