Even before getting into this article, I would first like to ask you a few questions:
Are you a university student? Do you think there are aspects that could be changed for better at your university? Do you consider that some of the decisions the government takes in terms of education could be different? Would you wish to make any changes? If so, have you done something about that?
I guess many of you are not 100% happy with how exactly your university works or even with how your countries education policies are in general. However, I also guess the answer to the last question would be negative in most cases. In fact, the same tendency can be found in many other fields, not only education. But far from being a critique, I strongly believe the lack of actions goes hand in hand with the lack of information. This is the reason why it is so important to you some tips about what you can do and how can you do it in order to change your university for the better.
Start from the beginning: basic information and organizations
Being a first-year student, you will probably feel totally lost in terms of how a university works. However, it should not stop you from being active and curious.
First of all, not only each country but certainly each university has its own structure. Usually you will be able to find that information at the webpage of your university, however, I also suggest visiting a student centre where they can give you more detailed information, you will definitely need that.
Once you know how your university works, you can then search for student bodies or student councils. Each university has its own student organization. Usually, the way student bodies work is that there are a few representants who form part of university bodies and are able to get directly in contact with the university government and with the Chancellor. Then, there is usually a second range, where you can communicate any lack or problems at the university to the representatives. This is normally the position you could aspire for while being a first-year student, and certainly, an important one since you actually get to suggest any possible changes, if needed. Once you get to know how your university functions, what positions are available and what responsibilities you can have, getting engaged is only the matter of time and effort you’re willing to invest.
On the other hand, you also have the possibility of getting involved in student associations which are not directly linked to one specific university or college. Many countries or bigger cities have created local and online associations with a diversity of goals and missions, so I definitely suggest finding some information about what your possibilities are.
Second step: only if you’re brave! National and international organizations
In the previous step, we got to know how university bodies and student councils usually work. However, the journey doesn’t end up there. Most countries have governmental and non-governmental unions and associations. In the first case, you should expect a student representative from each university forming a part of a national association, who then can get in contact with the government in terms of taking decisions related to education. That might be the case of CREUP in Spain, for example. An example of non-government associations would be United states student association. Usually, each country has its own national student body, able to represent student’s interests. Another example could be the UK’s NUS.
However, once again, it might not be your last step. Even bigger then national organizations are those that function in an international way. A good example is European Student’s Union, which is actually linked to UNESCO, European Union’s government, and Bologna Process, making sure each main EU country is represented and has the possibility to ensure each student’s rights and welfare. A similar organization would be an International Union of Students founded in Prague.
All that information we just gave you might sound not only overwhelming but also incredibly promising. That might be true, however, it is important to keep in mind any process of changing a policy or even a law is not an easy-to-achieve and fast task. In fact, the higher you shoot, the more difficult it will be to achieve a positive outcome. That, however, should never stop you from trying. Maybe you won’t see the results, but your children might be able to achieve them. It’s not only that the education is a right. It’s that we all have a right to a good, safe, and meaningful education and it’s our task to fight for it.
Have you made a positive change at your University? Do you want to praise how open they were to change? Them leave them a review on EDUopinions!