Maxim van Impe, the chairperson of Revolte, HOGENT's student council is one of the driving forces to co-design the student participation council within the European University Alliance U!REKA. "An important, but far from obvious goal".
HOGENT has a reputation for its strong student participation culture. But is this reputation justified? Does HOGENT distinguish itself from other institutions in this respect? "Definitely," Maxim confirms. "Participation is strongly embedded in the governing structures at HOGENT."
“And it's more than just garnish: the management at HOGENT really takes our concerns seriously and we as students are involved in the decision-making. Last year, for instance, there was a discussion on whether or not to introduce a one-week autumn break. With Revolte, we then widely questioned the students. It turned out that a clear majority of students were not in favour of this idea. This is just an example to explain why, in building student participation at European level, an important role lies ahead for the HOGENT Student Council."
In other words:& HOGENT is the leading partner on the topic of student participation within the U!REKA partnership. “Realising student participation within U!REKA will be an important but far from obvious goal," Maxim outlines. "Creating student involvement within one's own organisation is already a challenge, so doing so across different universities of applied sciences is even a bigger one. One of the hurdles is that each institution has a different approach in terms of student involvement and participation”, Maxim explains.
To clarify the context: the U!REKA alliance includes HOGENT, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Politecnico de Lisboa, VSB Technical University of Ostrava and and Napier University Edinburgh, as well as 24 more associate partners.
European Universities Alliances are transnational ERASMUS+funded alliances that, as the European Commission itself defines it, "point the way to the universities of the future, promote European values and identity and bring about a revolution in the quality and competitiveness of higher education in Europe."
Anyway, the students did not wait for the official launch of the European Universities Alliance (in January 2024). A lot of work has already been done in the meantime: Maxim and Roxanne Van de Voorde (the former president of Revolte) worked out a draft with statutes, regulations and guidelines concerning student participation. The second week of October they gathered with student representatives from the other partner institutions in Helsinki to discuss those drafts. Maxim looks back on this meeting with satisfaction: “The feedback was very positive, including from the Steering Committee, where we have presented the texts as well.”
Meanwhile, the students are also preparing a database with contact details of student representatives at all U!REKA partners.
Maxim dares to set the bar high: “When I pass on the chairmanship torch at the end of the academic year, I hope the U!REKA student council will be a reality."