Universities are institutions that have existed for the oldest since the Middle Ages. The University of Bologna has been a center of learning for over 800 years. If their core purpose has remained unchanged over centuries, universities have been through a many evolutions and revolutions.
As of now in France for instance, public universities must fulfill 6 goals as per article L.123-3 of the Education Code. These are: initial and continuous teaching ; scientific and technological research, dissemination and promotion of results ; orientation and first job access support ; dissemination of scientific and technological knowledge and information ; participation in building the European area of graduate studies and research ; international cooperation. Administrative staff, teachers-researchers, PhD students and representatives are the main people who operate on those goals. The ECSTRA project, a European project involving Universities from Lithuania, France and Spain and student organizations, is a prime example that the later also contribute to these goals.
As a member myself of a student organization in Clermont-Ferrand, France, involved in the ECSTRA project, I strive to promote volunteering in student organizations as a means to develop skills, discover new horizons and get involved with local communities.
Some dream of attending the highest ranked universities in the Shanghai rankings who value academic performance. I dream of attending a university that is also committed to spearheading innovative models of action regarding the multiples actual and upcoming crises (energy, environment, social, etc.) that permeate society. This requires a proactive policy that can only be successful if all parties involved in universities, students organizations included, are given sufficient opportunities to work collectively towards this goal. As an administrator of the student network organization Animafac involved in promoting student volunteering, I was shocked to discover student life was not a goal assigned to universities by decree.
Hence, I am glad that universities and student organizations have managed to come together around the ECSTRA project which has demonstrated that initiatives led by students are an impactful means of action on an individual and collective level. I hope to see more initiatives arise thanks to the tools developed by the ECSTRA partners and gear universities and students towards transformative action.
Article written by Mathieu Adenot, Masters student in Materials Chemistry at UCA, co-president of LieU’topie and administrator of Animafac