Declaration of the first Students’ European Forum

Baikaku, Euskal Herria

Sunday 16 September 2007 by Antoine

We, students coming from many areas within Europe have met in Bakaiku for the European Students Forum; a forum created through talks around Europe. We, students representing many different backgrounds have met in Bakaiku, a small town located away from centres of power because we believe structures gain legitimacy only through respect of their foundations. We also recognise that an organisation comprising of many individuals surpasses the power of a homogenised whole

The European Higher Education Area has been created to promote the interests of multinational corporations, which comprise of fundamental reforms to higher education, reflecting the multinationals’ interests: elitism, commodification and privatisation. The roots of the Bologna process exist in a Europe subjugated to organisations such as W.T.O and its GATS, OCED etc. We came together to resist the imposition of the non-democratic, neo-liberal Europe of capital and patriarchy.

We believe that the process of ‘European Convergence’ is a capitalist and neo-liberal attack upon the rights of students and their communities, principally affecting the right to education. The University envisioned by the ‘European Convergence’ (a quote in English but simply stated as the name of the move to homogenise in the Basque/Spanish versions) is a factory supplying workers who are without skills or rights, that are malleable to the instability of the world market, who serve only the interests of private industry and not the needs of society. States acting on behalf of supranational organisations are responsible for implementing these reforms. Reforms that aim to transform people’s innate rights into privileges to be bargained for earning ; and also transform public services, that answer to social needs, into agencies that safeguard the interests of private business. A crucial area targeted by these reforms will be universities and their faculties, who must defend themselves

We declare

Education must be attainable and accountable to society while continuing to serve it. This is why we are opposed to the process of privatisation and commodification which denies education as a universal right. Therefore we reject every measure that furthers the progress of elitism in education. The Universities that society needs are public, democratic and popular

* Public, because it must be a space open to all, that must be funded by society and for society , and therefore must exist without any form of barrier. * Democratic, because in a University decisions must be taken horizontally and transparantly. Society must be involved in the functioning of Universities which must in turn be accountable to and answerable to the society’s needs. * Popular, because a University must serve society and not companies or private economies; and must have a critical function, be transformative in nature and be non-discriminatory, inclusive and a tool of emancipation. We need an education that paves the way towards a society that is free, just, egalitarian and respectful of the world.

In the same way we oppose the homogenisation promoted by current forms of European Convergence. In order to guarantee the respect, development and recognition of diverse forms of identity and culture, all peoples must have the right to democratically create their own education systems that answer to their social, cultural and political needs so as to collectivly advance. This form of University cannot coexist with the increasingly substandard living conditions experienced by students. The improvment of these conditions is necesarry to defend the right to decent studying conditions for all students, a right that is currently barred by economic barriers.

We Demand

o The opening of a dialogue between the entire University community and the whole of society, concerning the nature and structure of higher education. This is a necessity if we are to create an education system that serves society’s needs. o The immediate removal of the laws that empower the E.H.E.A; the immediate rejection of the Bologna Process; and the destruction of all non-democratic institutions, to be replaced by institutions that are truly democratic and horizontal in decision making. o The immediate realisation of the right to education, which essentially requires the removal of all barriers (economic, administrative, academic, cultural, sexual, etc.) that make the universal right to education impossible. We demand immediate measures to guarantee this right. o Affirming that Universities are public services and spaces of cooperation and critical thinking, and rejecting the substandard conditions currently in place we demand the expulsion of companies from universities, and the reapropriation by the student community of all services present on campus’

The ‘European Convergence’ can be stopped, the Europe of markets can only exist via the submission and silence of society. This will not be the first time the corrupt and powerful have been stopped by the expression of the common will. This will not be the first university reform profitting the bankers that has been destroyed. Therefore the articultation and organisation of the students’ movement internationally is essential. No right has ever been given. Peoples have never attained improvement without stuggle. Struggle is the only way

Bakaiku, Euskal Herria 2006, 26th of March

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