News – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:33:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.14 Diversity in youth organisations? – AEGEE, JEF and ESN take action /diversity-in-youth-organisations/ Tue, 17 Apr 2018 19:31:52 +0000 /?p=7350 Do you think youth organisations like AEGEE represent all young people?

Do you think all young people have a chance to participate in youth organisations?

It is true that youth organisations are more accessible to certain groups of young people. But they are also working hard on new ways to engage all young people in their activities!ENS1_1_Duizendduizendmensen

JEF Europe, AEGEE-Europe and Erasmus Student Network has come together in late 2016 to discuss the issue of diversity and how to include young people from various backgrounds in their activities. Being the biggest youth organisations on the field representing hundreds of thousands of young people, the networks realised that they need to be even more open and inclusive in order to provide proper representation for the youth of Europe.

DIVE_countries

Making it happen

Together with volunteers form the local organisations of JEF France, JEF Bulgaria, AEGEE-Athina, AEGEE-Cagliari, ESN Sweden, ESN Dubrovnik, the project DIVE was born. **Diversity and social inclusion in European youth organisations** is a two-year project focusing on sharing good practices funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union in order to help the participating organisations to:

  • Develop organisational tools to be accessible to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Learn to break down barriers and obstacles young people face when it comes to participation
  • Gain more understanding on the topic of social inclusion

The three networks are working together with YES Forum, the umbrella of organisations across Europe working with disadvantaged groups. YES Forum provides us with the field-specific knowledge to be able to be more accessible and inclusive towards youth groups that might not be the mainstreadm target audience of our organisations.

The DIVE project will give you new tools to use for inclusion

3 trainings will take place in 2018-2019 in Sofia – Athens – Malmö
The DIVE trainings will gather participants who want to learn more about the topic of social inclusion in youth organisations, and want to take part in creating mechanisms that can involve more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in volunteering and the activities of their own organisations.

The DIVE project is for you if…

…you think you are privileged to be able to volunteer in your freetime – because you don’t have to work two jobs to support your family.
…you think that we should give more chances to young people coming from disadvantaged background – because not having enough money to travel or not attending the university should not make them feel less!
…you think that European youth policy and youth organisations should pay more attention to involving young people from minorities, from religious groups, from rural areas, and less economic means to travel and explore Europe.

Get involved!

The more inclusive your membership is, the more it can make your work richer, your expertise wider, and increase the outreach and impact you have on the lives of young people! The DIVE project is developing tools that will support this work and in the meantime you can:

  • Assess your current membership and target new youth groups you want to involve
  • Take a field-trip to the rural areas of your country to meet young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Organise an Inclusion Action Day in cooperation with other organisations where you can promote diversity and come up with ideas together how to involve more disadvantaged groups

Don’t forget to take pictures and use #DIVEproject for your activities!
You can contact dive@aegee.org for support and to address your questions.

The DIVE project is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

Partners

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AEGEE launches “Why European Parliament” /aegee-launches-why-european-parliament/ Tue, 27 Mar 2018 08:47:22 +0000 /?p=7336 AEGEE-Europe launches a new online and offline campaign: YEP. YEP stands for Why European Parliament and aims at informing young people about the European Parliament as an institution, the democratic concept for which it stands, its functioning and competences. Besides, it aims at exposing its relevance in the daily life of young people, encouraging them to take an active role in it.

The focusses of the project are, first of all, to train a pool of young multipliers on the above-mentioned objectives. These will afterwards form an informal network that will carry out numerous local and regional actions oriented at informing young people on the European Parliament by peer learning, non-formal education and audio visual production.

Second, the audiovisual part of the project has a central role, in order to increase its impact and reach as well as to unite all the actions carried out. In order to do so, a social media campaign will be launched with the produced materials during the project by all parties. This campaign will include information on the European Parliament, results of the workshops, videos with opinions of young people, and also will be a platform for exchange of materials to increase the impact of the project and to be able to duplicate it in the future. 100.000 young people is expected to be reached via the YEP campaign within the next 5 months.

725 multipliers directly reached by the project will also increase their competences (knowledge, skills and attitudes) both regarding soft skills such as public speaking, moderation and facilitation, and knowledge on the European Parliament and the possibilities it offers. Thus, we aim at empowering the people that will directly participate in the project to create a long-term impact in themselves and societies.

  • The project will consist of the following activities:
  • Project team meeting
  • Regional multiplier meetings
  • Conference on Youth Participation in European Democracy
  • Youth Participation Day
  • Local Actions and Local Actions Tours
  • Social media campaign

To carry out the development and implementation of the project, two project officers have been employed, that will work on the creation of content, as well as monitoring and disseminating the results of the work: Nadia Deis and Philipp Blum.

The project is co-funded by the European Parliament, and ends on August 31st.

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AEGEE supports the Istanbul Convention /aegee-supports-the-istanbul-convention/ Mon, 26 Feb 2018 19:32:18 +0000 /?p=7299 On 15 February and 22 February, Bulgaria and Slovakia opposed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

While the European Union signed The Istanbul Convention on 13 June 2017, a number of EU countries have yet to ratify it. In the last few weeks, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov withdrew from parliament a motion to ratify the Istanbul Convention and Slovak PM Robert Fico said he refused to ratify the treaty.

As the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation, the Istanbul Convention ensures that signing countries put in place measures to gather data, prevent and effectively tackle gender-based violence. The ratification and implementation of this convention make governments accountable and subject to scrutiny by an independent expert body.

Istanbul_convention
AEGEE profoundly regrets those decisions and particularly the political instrumentalization of the ratification process that led to the spread of many misconceptions and a distorted debate on the content and the objectives of the Convention and reiterates its support in favor of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the remaining European Countries.

Istanbul Convention
European Parliament’s brief

Press

After Bulgaria, Slovakia too fails to ratify the Istanbul Convention

by Juliette Beaulaton

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What can you(th) do to tackle migration? /what-can-youth-do-to-tackle-migration/ Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:48:36 +0000 /?p=7287 By Réka Salamon

January 30, European Parliament Brussels – the Events and Visitors’ Centre of the European Parliament saw groups of excited students from various parts of Europe entering the gates to discuss one of the most relevant and challenging topics of today’s time. The European Youth Seminar “Migration, Free Movement and Refugees – When Dreams Face Death by Drowning” held the promise to engage young people in the understanding of a very complex European issue, and offer them the space to discuss possible solutions.

Background

The European Youth Seminars of the European Parliament were launched in 2016 and have already given the opportunity to dozens of student groups to visit the European Parliament, engage and discuss relevant topics of today’s and the future of Europe, and engage directly with decision-makers from various backgrounds.

“When you hear ‘Members of the European Parliament’, it sounds like these politicians are too important and busy to talk to students like us. It was great to hear about their personal story and their passion, to learn what is their motivation to be in politics.”
– remarked one of the students from Hungary, part of the study group of the EP Seminar on Migration that brought 35 students from Hungarian high schools to #VisitEP.

Youth Seminar ' Migration, Free Movement of Refugees - When Dreams Face Death by Drowning ' .Plenary session.

Youth Seminar ‘ Migration, Free Movement of Refugees – When Dreams Face Death by Drowning ‘ .Plenary session. European Parliament Multimedia Directory

Ideas discussed

There were too many things to discuss about migration and refugees. Nevertheless, the students coming from 14 different nationalities have come up with great ideas that are reflecting the perceptions of young people. The seminar’s participants have received introduction to the topic from an expert, Joanna Apap, from the European Parliament Research Service, policy analyst on the topic of migration. In the followings, the three different Idea Labs offered space for young people to discuss: “Free movement within the EU as a citizen’s right”, “Refugees and the right to asylum”, and “Which immigration policy for the 21st century?”. During the final plenary session, participants had the chance to present their ideas to MEP Martina Dlajabová (ALDE).

Youth Seminar ' Migration, Free Movement of Refugees - When Dreams Face Death by Drowning ' .Plenary session.

Youth Seminar ‘ Migrtion, Free Movement of Refugees – When Dreams Face Death by Drowning ‘ .Plenary session. European Parliament Multimedia Directory

Ideas included city-level incentives that could support local governments in integrating refugees by employment, highlighting the importance of mobile learning opportunities, touching upon the topic of language inclusion, and calling for a stronger emphasis and education of European values as the foundation of the continent; the young participants have come up with a set of great recommendations.

Some of the ideas “could be taken straight to the European Parliament plenary” – Ms Dlabajová remarked.

Conclusion

The European Youth Seminar on Migration and Refugees has given the opportunity to 70 young people from diverse backgrounds to get more acquainted not only with the European institutional framework and Brussels, but also what it means to be an active citizen and a European. The Seminar offered to space to learn and to exchange ideas, but has offered even more: the inspiration to take action together and care about one of the most challenging topics of our time.

AEGEE / European Students’ Forum looks forward to continuing our cooperation with the European Parliament in putting young people and the citizens of Europe in the heart of decision-making in EU policies.

Some more impressions from the participants:

“What have I learnt during the seminar?
I have learnt that even though politicians in the EU did a lot so far, it is still not enough as the pace of life and changes are getting only faster and faster. Sometimes there is even not enough time to think, but only time to react to what is happening.
We all do mistakes when it comes to everyday life, but the most important is to take lessons and to improve things that have been done so far. In order to live in such a fast changing environment, we need to be very flexible, we need to respect one another and work together, only then we can move forward. Everyone one is different and have different opinions, but when it comes to the common future we should pocket our pride.
What also amazes me is that even though we are young, politicians care about our opinion on such important issues. We know that our voice also matters and that gives more courage to act.” Wiola Rudnicka (AEGEE-Warszawa)

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Franck Biancheri Award 2018: and the winner is… Aegee-Salerno ! /franck-biancheri-award-2018-and-the-winner-is-aegee-salerno/ Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:32:48 +0000 /?p=7272 After,
AEGEE-Delft in 2014, AEGEE-Paris in 2015, AEGEE Cluj-Napoca in 2016, AEGEE-Budapest in 2017…
the winning antenna of the AAFB’s prestigious Franck Biancheri Award* in 2018 is …
AEGEE-Salerno !!!!
For this 2018 edition, the open call for applications launched to all AEGEE antennae resulted in a variety of highly interesting proposals that led to interesting discussions among the members of the Selection Committee.
AEGEE-Salerno, winner of the “Franck Biancheri Award” in 2018, will dedicate the award to the shaping of a big 3 days event in spring 2018 in partnership with the Civic Education Working Group and the AAFB, on the following inspiring topic : “Are we up to make Europe stronger for the future?“, with a view to reflect on the future of European Union elections and democracy after Brexit… an irresistible topic considering Franck Biancheri’s life-long fight for trans-European elections and parties and the upcoming 2019 European election.
AEGEE-Salerno considers that the questions concerning the future of Europe cannot be only left to politicians but also needs to be discussed by citizens, young ones in particular, because it’s them who will live with the next European system. Their voices should therefore be heard when deciding on important changes and they should have the possibility to influence current politics and systematic changes. So, in the future they can tell their children that they shaped modern European history. (Complete programme, topics and speakers to come soon.)
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Our congratulations to the winner AEGEE-Salerno, its members and teams!!! … but also big thanks to all the other antennas for their high-profile applications and projects.

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AEGEE Strengthens its Presence in the South Caucasus: EPM Yerevan 2018 – Bridging Europe /aegee-strengthens-its-presence-in-the-south-caucasus-epm-yerevan-2018-bridging-europe/ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:09:24 +0000 /?p=7192 On 8-12 March 2018, Yerevan will be hosting the European Planning Meeting 2018, which will be organized by AEGEE-Yerevan / Yerevan European Students’ Forum Youth NGO.

For the first time in its 32 years of history, the pan-European network of  AEGEE / European Students’ Forum will organise a statutory event  in the South Caucasus, marking the intention of AEGEE-Europe to enlarge the scopes of interaction with the youth of the non-EU member states and overcoming the existing barriers of youth mobility.

The EPM Conference welcomes 250 youth workers, government officials, as well as business, civil society, academia and media representatives from more than 40 the European Union (EU) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, in order to discuss key priorities of the EU’s Eastern Partnership strategy, and to draft the AEGEE network’s Action Agenda to tackle European issues that shape young people’s lives across the continent.  Participants will have the chance to take part in workshops, panel discussions and roundtable discussions before working in focus groups drafting specific youth-related recommendations.

The European Planning Meeting Yerevan 2018 creates a forum for integration of ideas, policies and common interests aimed at deepening and enhancing existing relations between the EU and EaP countries. The Conference will draw particular attention to the main topics of the European Agenda, including Europe’s current new forms of cooperation between the EU and its neighboring partner countries, youth unemployment, Erasmus+ Programme, youth participation in democratic transformation and the importance of the strengthening of the civil society capacity in the non-EU countries.

Considering Armenia’s Government intention for signing the Comprehensive Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union in November 2017, the Conference will also focus on youth entrepreneurship, promotion of sustainable economic growth, unleashing youth potential in high technologies  and diversification of cooperation between Armenia and the EU including prospects of boosting people-to-people contacts and launching visa liberalisation process.

The participants of the EPM Yerevan 2018 will also get a chance to participate in thematic workshops and master classes held  by experts, as well as the Fair will be hosted for the Armenian students and the general public. In addition a special cultural programme will be organized for all international participants thus providing them a real-time opportunity to discover the long lasting and unique European cultural heritage of Armenia.

The European Planning Meeting Yerevan 2018 is the biggest thematic European youth event ever organized in Armenia, proudly marking the 2800th anniversary of the city of Yerevan.

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AEGEE’s Statement on the recent events in Catalonia /statement-on-the-recent-events-in-catalonia/ Tue, 03 Oct 2017 17:32:18 +0000 /?p=7156 After years of increasing tension between the Spanish central government and the Catalan autonomic government, in September, the Catalan Parliament approved the call for a referendum on the independence of the Spanish region, which was prohibited by the Spanish Constitutional Court. On October 1st, 2017, the referendum unilaterally declared by the Catalan autonomic government regarding Catalonia’s independence took place.

We condemn the violence and brutality occurred in different parts of the region along that day, resulting in hundreds of injured citizens. We defend the respect of fundamental human rights of all citizens, with special attention to the freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, and believe that violence is never the solution.

AEGEE stands for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, strengthens mutual understanding and creates a space for dialogue. These values have been challenged by the recent happenings in Catalonia and we urge political parties and organisations to find peaceful solutions. We support our locals in the involved areas, being young people a key player in democratic dialogue and understanding that should be listened to.

We call on all parties involved to partake in respectful dialogue and find a common and peaceful solution, respecting the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

Sources:

http://www.osce.org/odihr/347171

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57785#.WdO242i0PIV

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-17-3626_en.htm

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Statement on Gefira /statement-on-gefira/ Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:42:29 +0000 /?p=7149 AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum was founded in 1985 by a group of young people around Franck Biancheri. Our organisation is politically independent and strives for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, which is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development.

Moreover, as stated in our Policy Paper on Migration: “our solidarity and our tolerance shall not refer only to every European citizen, but it also should refer to every human being who decides to migrate, everyone who attempts, everyone who risks his/her own life or flee to Europe to escape from any type of persecutions or conflicts.”

We would like to underline that the values and principles upon which our organization was founded are in contrast with the positions of the Gefira Foundation, and that we do not have a relation with it. We therefore call the representatives of Gefira to refrain the usage of our name in their public means of communication.

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Policy Paper on the Summer University Project and the recognition of AEGEE as a provider of short-term youth mobility programs /policy-paper-on-the-summer-university-project-and-the-recognition-of-aegee-as-a-provider-of-short-term-youth-mobility-programs/ Sun, 11 Jun 2017 13:49:50 +0000 /?p=7076 01 | Introduction

AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum is a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit student organization which has around 13000 members from more than 200 cities in 40 countries all over Europe.[1] The mission of AEGEE is creation of borderless Europe, which could be implemented by giving the young people opportunities of cultural exchange, integration and travelling.[2] Visiting different countries is the best way to broaden the mind and share cultural diversity. However, quite a lot of destinations are still rather problematic for young people to reach, mostly due to bureaucratic (visas) and financial (high ticket prices) barriers. Moreover, many opportunities are missed due to lack of information: Most young people have only heard  about Erasmus student exchange, although  there are  a lot of other possibilities (for instance, the Youth Exchange Training Course, EVS, the EU Aid volunteers, etc.). Since the foundation of AEGEE many steps towards broader availability of travel have been taken, especially in the Schengen Area. However, there are still many obstacles to mobility in Europe: As 25% of the AEGEE network is outside the European Union, visa problems can sometimes be substantial.

In the following paper the importance of youth mobility will be explained in terms of the biggest and most significant project of the organization: the Summer University. While long-term mobility programs supported by universities (like Erasmus) are broadly recognized, there are still short-term mobility programs supported by international NGOs, which also contribute a lot to creating European citizens. First of all, in section 3 the essence of the Summer University project will be described, as well as its history, development, purpose and diversity. Further, in section 4 the methodology of the research will be explained. The research presents the results of a questionnaire conducted among members of AEGEE on the impact of participation in and/or organization of a the Summer University on their life and personality, and also the statistic and description of various mobility barriers faced by members of the organization  when trying to reach the place where the SU will take place..

Based on the results and statistics of the survey and the position  of AEGEE, illustrated in section 5, recommendations about possible measures concerning visa procedure and possible international support of NGOs (as stakeholders in organizing mobility projects and events) from the institutions and local governments will be given in section 6.

02 | Context       

The issue of youth mobility programs is as urgent as ever, especially taking into account not only the question of individual development but also the social situation in Europe, decrease of the level of European identity and solidarity, and raising Euroscepticism.

To the question concerning the Erasmus program (which “enables European students to spend part of their studies at another higher education institution or with an organisation in Europe”), a large majority of Europeans express a positive opinion about it (86% ‘positive’); just 5% have a negative opinion, and 9% are unable to answer.[3]

The essence of the Erasmus program – as well as its main benefit – is its contribution to creating European citizens in the sense  for which the whole European policy strives: democratic, tolerant, open-minded, with a wide range of interests. The importance of this program cannot be understated (especially in view of the rise of populism, nationalism and Euroscepticism), but we must keep in mind that Erasmus is not the only mobility program which can help to achieve this aim. There are many other long-term and short-term mobility programs with various contents  but with a common result. One of these programs, coordinated by AEGEE-Europe, is the Summer University project  (detailed in section  3).

One undeniable advantage of the Summer University project over the Erasmus program is that it is open  to absolutely all young Europeans regardless of background or whether they are studying at university (only students can take part in the Erasmus program). Besides, not all European countries are involved in the Erasmus program so far, whereas the Summer University project is accessible for citizens of any European country  (both EU  and non-EU).

 

03 | The Summer University Project

AEGEE provides young people with a lot of opportunities for travelling and self-development by organising various international projects and events. The biggest and most significant project, which is described in detail below, is Summer University.

The Summer University project was established in 1988 and this is one of the largest and most successful youth exchange independent short-time mobility volunteering project organized by an NGO.[4]

Summer Universities are events which  take place during summer for between one and four weeks in most of the cities in which  AEGEE is present. Understanding and exploring the multicultural dimension of the European continent, overcoming national and cultural stereotypes, fighting for tolerance and creating open-minded citizens are some of the reasons why 20 to 50 young Europeans from all over Europe come together in each Summer University.[5]

The second part of its name – “University” – is not simply a word, it is very significant, concerning AEGEE’s aim of non-formal education and being realized with workshops, discussions, presentations or even projects provided by either experienced members of AEGEE or by other partner institutions.[6]

The idea of this project belongs to Daisy Kopmels (member of AEGEE-Amsterdam, 1988). First Summer Universities were 10 language courses offered to 320 applicants, taking place in Bellaterra/Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Heidelberg, Kiel, Milano, Amsterdam, Orléans, Paris and Toulouse. The languages which were studied at these courses were Catalan, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch and French.[7]

The following timeline illustrates the development of the  project:

  • 1989: The number of courses reaches 16 and, for the first time, it was possible to study Greek and Computer Sciences
  • 1991: The first SUs in Eastern Europe take place
  • 1992 : The first 5 TSUs (Travelling Summer Universities) are organized
  • 1994: SU Types: Summer University, Summer University +, Travelling SU, Summer Camp
  • 1995: The fee is now 100 ECU[8], raised many more times after.
  • 1996: Summer Events are introduced
  • 1999: Electronic applications replace paper forms
  • 2000: Webpage: (www.aegee.org/su). Fee is now paid in Euro
  • 2003: Applications now via website
  • 2004: The SU on its peak: 96 SUs! The first SUPS (Summer University Project School – a training for future Summer University organisers) took place[9]

The Summer University project suggests a big variety of themes, which can help its participants in developing new competences, gaining useful skills and knowledge. For example, there are such topics as History and Local culture, Civic Education, Sports, Language, Art and Creativity, etc. Apart from the cultural exchange these Summer Universities also include sessions and trainings on different topics, provided in an interactive way and based on the principles of the non-formal education.

Summer Universities are currently divided into Summer Course, Summer Course Plus and Travelling Summer University.

  • Every Summer Course is characterised by:
    • A duration of between 11 and 28 nights; exceptions for a duration of minimum 8 nights can be made by the SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team) for organising Locals which have not been granted this exception the previous year;
    • At least 14 hours of tuition per week;
    • A minimum number of 15 participants.

The course should be about main subject/roof topic, classes about related topics are possible.[10]

A Summer Course Plus is an intensive course on any subject. These courses are officially recognised and supported by the university, the educational institution in which they take place or AEGEE-Academy (a  training association within  AEGEE-Europe, formed by members of Locals interested in trainings) and lessons are taught by professional teachers or trainers approved by AEGEE-Academy. A proof of the teachers’ or trainers’ qualification and experience is to be provided to the SUCT (Summer University Coordination Team, responsible for the good functioning and for the development of the project).

  • Every Summer Course Plus is characterised by:
    • A duration between 11 and 28 nights;
    • At least 20 hours of tuition per week on average;
    • A minimum of 15 participants;
    • A minimum of 4 cities visited.[11]
  • A Travelling Summer University is a cultural travel through Europe. Every Travelling Summer University is characterised by:
    • A duration between 14 and 28 nights;
    • At least 20 hours of tuition per week on average;
    • A minimum of 15 participants.[12]

According to CIA (Corpus Iuridium AEGEEnse, General Rules of AEGEE-Europe, version 27, July 2016) the Summer University participation fees are set to a maximum of 14.00 Euros per person and per night, in which at least two meals per day (of which at least one is warm), all lodging, transportation, tuition and activities are included. Fees set by the preceding SUCT can be increased by a maximum percentage based on Eurostat Euro Area annual inflation statistics of the calendar year[13]. Locals are encouraged to set the fee as low as possible in order to  encourage and foster travelling according to the aims of the SU project.

In summary, the Summer University project is AEGEE’s longest-lived and most successful project, which has evolved and taken many shapes over its history and throughout its different instances , even though the basic concept has remained the same: summer events organised by and for young people from all over Europe, with both educational content, cultural exchange and with room for fun and leisure. In the past year 2016 the total number of SU applicants was 2767, the number of Summer Universities was 75, the number of organizing locals was 101 and the total number of places was 2181. 30 countries[14] were involved in the organizational process.[15]

 

04 | Analysis and Overview of the Mobility Survey Results

In order to present the most topical information about the impact of the SU project on the young people and the mobility barriers, a questionnaire was conducted  among all members of AEGEE from 13th of March and 8th of April. 122 members from 20 different European countries[16] took part in this survey.

The questionnaire had the following aims:

  • To find out the influence SU participation has on young people;
  • To find out and classify all mobility obstacles AEGEE members had faced while getting visas and reaching the place of the SU, as well as financial barriers;
  • To clarify the reasons for these obstacles.

While answering 16 questions the participants could evaluate the impact of the participation or organization of the Summer University on their life and personality from 1 to 7 (1 – do not agree at all, 7 – agree completely), report about any difficulties (problems getting visa, lack of financial means, etc.) reaching the place of the Summer University, and also give their comments and share their opinions regarding all these questions.

The survey shows the following results:

1) Concerning the impact of participation in the SU project on the personality and life of AEGEE members, 83,6% have participated in the SU; 36,9% – several times (two or more); 72,1% have been organizers or helpers in this project, besides, half did it after being a participant. These numbers brightly illustrate the positive impact of the SU project on the activity of the previously not too active young people, who start their acquaintance with this project from simple participation and then become inspired and start organizing something by themselves, taking responsibility.

According to the statistic, SU had the biggest impact on the development of such qualities as language and communication skills (79,5%[17] agreed with this statement to different extents) and self-confidence (81,9%[18] of participants feel like that). 84,4%[19] agreed that their participation in the Summer University had made them more open-minded, and 75,4%[20] are now feeling more European.

“Of course I’m more open minded now, meeting specially those from super far away countries (Armenia, Russia or Ukraine) helped a lot to destroy stereotypes and indeed made me feel more European to have friends scattered all around the continent and beyond.”[21]

“As participant, it engaged me in European / Political issues, by meeting people from other countries.”[22]

 Soft skills (like event management, team management, time management) were also quite strongly developed, especially among organizers and helpers: 73,8%[23] of the respondents have agreed with this statement.

“My Summer University experience … opened me the door to improve all soft-skills people can find in AEGEE by the willing to do something for the organisation after SU. I took role of an organiser after my SU experience and it developed all my pack of soft-skills for 100%.”[24]

“As organizer, I developed skills I wouldn’t have without this project.”[25]

Apart from the above-listed results, 39,3%[26] marked that after participating or organizing the SU they feel better prepared for the labour market.

“I would say that I developed all the soft skills on the list and more, therefore I consider I’m better prepared for the labour market.”[27]

As organizer I’d put ‘7’ because I’ve got a lot of soft skills and become prepared for the labour market being organizer.[28]

2) Concerning the necessity of visa for reaching the place of the SU and related problems, as well as any other obstacles, 37,7% of the AEGEE members needed visa for participating in the SU. Almost a quarter of them faced various problems while getting their visa, for example: slow and expensive procedure, lots of documents needed, unexpected costs, applying several times, etc.

“It was always some problems with docs/invitation so I needed to apply several times.”[29]

For another SU (Russia), the procedure to get the visa was slow and expensive.[30]

“I had to prepare too many documents and make a lot of appointments plus spend a lot of money on these issues.”[31]

 One quarter of the members who faced these problems could not finally solve them: they either had to pay much more money than what they expected, or even had to cancel their attendance to the SU.

“The solution was paying the fast visa transmit, that was more expensive.”[32]

“So I didn’t go to SU.”[33]

 Regarding financial barriers, one third of the respondents could not go to the SU due to the lack of financial means.

“Financial issues is the real barrier. …I really spent a lot of money on the tickets. …all summer is high tourist season, so it also influences the price and the speed of the disappearance of cheap tickets. So, this year financial issues really prevent me from going to any SU.”[34]

“The most important thing that prevented me from participating was lack of money. And the most expensive thing about going to a summer university is travelling to the place.”[35]

 

Some respondents pointed out that financial barriers and challenges are to be found not only on the side of participants, but also on the side of organisers. Given the limitations that our internal regulation puts on the fees for SUs, it makes it exceedingly difficult for certain AEGEE locals to organise them and to compete with other “cheaper” locations.

“Money is a barrier but 14 euro per night at summer is nothing. Most of the locals can’t fit into that price but it’s a HUGE mistake to settle the budget based on probable fundraising.”[36]

 Based on statistic, we can conclude that participation in or organizing the Summer University project has a huge positive impact on the personality, makes people feel more open-minded, more European, and also allows gaining and developing different soft skills, useful for the labour market (e.g. time management, event management, conflict management, the ability to turn the ideas into reality), broaden the mind and rise the level of tolerance in Europe.

“Both when participating in and organizing a SU, all the experiences are totally valuable in so many ways. I would not like to miss any of those experiences – whether good or bad ones. Participating and organizing is a totally different experience regarding for example responsibility, yet it’s the same feeling you have after the SU: feeling united, having new friends, having broken stereotypes, having overcome own fears, knowing a new culture, language, cuisine, places … all that helps oneself to grow as a person, and in this environment it works so much better than in any other (forced) environment.”[37]

To sum up, the real value of the Summer University project is that all soft skills, language skills, perception of peculiarities of lots of various cultures are assimilated in an informal atmosphere but at the same time this atmosphere, this event are organized so properly by volunteers who do believe in values of borderless Europe and the necessity of youth development and international connection, that all these skills, knowledge and tolerance become a natural part of the participants.

At the same time quite a lot of young people still face mobility barriers like unexpectedly long and expensive procedures for obtaining visas or extremely high prices for the tickets to particular destinations. Often the first issue causes the second one, as visa participants cannot buy cheap tickets in advance due to the uncertain situation of their visa application. When they finally receive an answer from an embassy, it is often too late to buy tickets for an affordable price, so young people have either to waste much more money than they had planned, or just miss the opportunity to take part in such a promising and useful Summer University project.

05 | Position of AEGEE-Europe

AEGEE believes in the importance of youth mobility, which is one of the pillars in the forming of the world for which we all strive: a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe without national levels posing obstacles in the way of mobility, valuing and  encouraging young people to contribute in its development. The young people are going to take part in forming such a society very soon (and some of them are already involved in this process).

Youth mobility in a friendly atmosphere unites and connects young people from completely different countries with absolutely dissimilar social and economic background; and such connection is what forms groups and personalities who sincerely desire to achieve a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe and contribute in the process of its development. Especially taking into account the current rise of populism, nationalism and Euroscepticism, the possibilities and undertaken actions for creating young European citizens with fresh views should not be neglected.

AEGEE provides opportunities for self-development of the youth, especially with such interactive and effective methods like travelling, intercultural exchange and volunteer organization of events internationally (all of which are fully included in the Summer University project). From our side – the side of AEGEE-Europe – we always take all possible measures in order to facilitate the process of obtaining a visa for those participants who need it and to minimize the prices for participating in the SU. However, our opportunities there are limited and AEGEE members are forced to waste a lot of  time in the  collection of all required documents (even several times), unexpectedly pay money, or even refuse participation in the event.

Following the evidence previously provided and the importance of this topic in European society today, AEGEE calls for the recognition of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs as providers of short-term youth mobility programs. AEGEE also calls for providing equal opportunities of participation in mobility programmes for visa-countries.

06 | Recommendations

AEGEE advocates for the following measures to be taken in order to involve NGOs and official stakeholders when talking about organization of international mobility programs, and also to simplify visa procedure and encourage young people to travel to all destinations within Europe without exceptions.

 06.01 |  Recommendations for the European institutions

  • calling for the recognition of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs as providers of impactful short-term youth mobility programs;
  • structured inclusion of AEGEE and other international youth NGOs in the dialogue on the development of policy proposals related to youth mobility programs and related matters;
  • creation of an enabling environment within AEGEE and other international youth NGOs when it comes to providing youth mobility opportunities, including providing financial support.

 06.02 | Recommendations for the National parties

  • creation of an enabling environment within AEGEE and other international youth NGOs when it comes to providing youth mobility opportunities, including:
    – providing support for young people in order to overcome visa barriers;
    – working towards simplifying and reducing visa procedures and obstacles;
  • involvement of young people in the parties concerned about the discussion over visa procedures and mobility obstacles and over actions for creating the desirable mobility.

References

  1. About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/
  2. Europeans and the Erasmus programme: awareness and opinion. (2016, November). Standard Eurobarometer: Public opinion in the European Union, First results (86), pp. 34-35.
  3. Gagarkina, Y. (2015-2016). Summer University – AEGEE Superproject. Key to Europe, 91.
  4. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 5: Summer Course. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  5. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 6: Summer Course Plus. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  6. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 7: Travelling Summer University. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.
  7. Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 9: Summer University Participation Fees. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 77.
  8. Statement of Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/statement-of-principles/
  9. Summer University 2016. (2016). Retrieved from www.projects.aegee.org: http://www.projects.aegee.org/suct/su2016/statistics2016.php
  10. What is AEGEE? (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/

[1] What is AEGEE? (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/

[2] Statement of Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.aegee.org: https://www.aegee.org/about-aegee/statement-of-principles/

[3] Europeans and the Erasmus programme: awareness and opinion. (2016, November). Standard Eurobarometer: Public opinion in the European Union, First results (86), pp. 34-35.

[4] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[5] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[6] Gagarkina, Y. (2015-2016). Summer University – AEGEE Superproject. Key to Europe, 91.

[7] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about/

[8] European Currency Unit, a former basket of the currencies of the European Community, precursor to the euro

[9] About Summer University. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.zeus.aegee.org: http://www.zeus.aegee.org/portal/projects/summer-university/about

[10] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 5: Summer Course. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[11] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 6: Summer Course Plus. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[12] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 7: Travelling Summer University. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 76.

[13] Juridical Commission: Claudio Gennaro, G. L. (Ed.). (2016, July). Article 9: Summer University Participation Fees. Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse(27), p. 77.

[14] Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Greece, Russian Federation, Turkey, Serbia, Romania, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Austria, Latvia, Finland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Belgium, Georgia, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro

[15] Summer University 2016. (2016). Retrieved from www.projects.aegee.org: http://www.projects.aegee.org/suct/su2016/statistics2016.php

[16] Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine

[17] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (27), “6” (22) and “7” (48) divided by the whole amount (122)

[18] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (34) and “7” (45) divided by the whole amount (122)

[19] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (25) and “7” (57) divided by the whole amount (122)

[20] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (21), “6” (26) and “7” (45) divided by the whole amount (122)

[21] The respondent from Spain, 22 years old

[22] The respondent from Germany, 25 years old

[23] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (27), “6” (25) and “7” (38) divided by the whole amount (122)

[24] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[25] Respondent from Germany, 25 years old

[26] The sum of the respondents who chose “5” (25), “6” (10) and “7” (13) divided by the whole amount (122)

[27] Respondent from Spain, 22 years old

[28] Respondent from Russia, 23 years old

[29] Respondent from Russia, 23 years old

[30] Respondent from Spain, 30 years old

[31] Respondent from Turkey, 27 years old

[32] Respondent from Spain, 29 years old

[33] Respondent from Turkey, 22 years old

[34] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[35] Respondent from Belarus, 24 years old

[36] Respondent from Russia, 28 years old

[37] Respondent from Germany, 23 years old

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Europe on Track training and opening conference in Budapest /europe-on-track-training-and-opening-conference-in-budapest/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 07:06:08 +0000 /?p=7061 By Rut & Ele 

On the 15th of April, 2017, the ambassadors and project team started arriving in Budapest and Monday evening we finally all gathered together, offline, for the first time.

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Starting the Monday “fashionably” late, we went on a city tour, led by Luca Búr, to admire the beautiful architecture and fascinating history of the city. Budapest being known for its ruin bars, we ended the day at Szimpla, the city’s first and most famous ruin bar, known for its disoriented but charming environment.

Our training as ambassadors officially started on Tuesday, and the past few days have been intensive, motivating and full of caffeine-derived energy. During the training, we prepared for our workshops, conducted mock-interviews, and performed team building activities. Benedetto, one of the ambassadors from last year’s Team Blue joined us to share his experiences and knowledge transfer in order for us to learn from previous mistakes and best practises. Although we will probably face many challenges on the way, we now all believe that we are better prepared for any obstacles that may cross our paths.

On 27th April, the day before our opening conference, the annual Report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe was released, in which states that “the Europe-wide project on democratic citizenship education should be implemented as a priority.” This statement proves the importance of the topic of our opening conference “Education for the present, Democracy for the Future”, which started on 28th April, officially launching Europe on Track! It is organized by AEGEE-Budapest, the Europe on Track Project Team and the Civic Education Working Group, with support of the Associations des Amis de Franck Biancheri.

The conference started with an address from the Comité Directeur, Maarten de Groot and Joanna Pankowska, followed by the president of AEGEE-Budapest, Ákos Glaub. Then followed a speech by the representative of Central European University, Serge Sych, who expressed his admiration of the unique bond of the AEGEE family after witnessing our dynamic energizer. The main organizer of the conference, Petra Buruzs, shared a fairytale story about the birth of the conference, that started with a “marriage proposal” from María Ballesteros Melero and Nicola Guida, from EoT and CEWG.

During the conference we had parallel workshops on The Concept of Civic Education, The Evolution of Democracy and The Power of Knowing. Using AEGEE’s democratic tool of finger gestures to communicate, the early hours did not withhold the participants from engaging in intense debate, breaking down definitions and constructs. During coffee(candy) breaks, we got to enjoy different candies brought from all over Europe! Furthermore, Marie Heller’s spoke about Civil Society’s role in shaping active and responsible citizens, using the complex history of civil society in Central Eastern Europe. This talk was followed by four different focus group sessions on Economics and Democracy, Current (European) Democracy, Civil Society and Euroland.

Not only did we listen to lectures, but the participants also came up with their own projects that they presented at the final day of the conference, promising to execute their ideas and move forward in creating a better Europe together.

The conference with 80 participants and speakers took place at the Central European University in Budapest, in the midsts of current struggles regarding academic freedom, and thus, according to many speakers, the perfect location at the perfect timing for this conference. Hungary is not an exception – right-wing populism is rising across Europe, bringing the future of democracy in danger, highlighting the responsibilities of all of us to gather against such forces. Democracy is not a given, but its dynamic and fragile nature requires citizens to be active, responsible, and critical.

We want young people’s voices to be heard, and we can’t wait to hear the thoughts of young people from all over Europe during the next one month. It’s almost amazing that we’ve only known each other for less than a week now, for it feels like we’ve known each other for years, and we are all incredibly excited for the journey ahead of us!

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