In early March, 275 students from 38 European University Alliances, including four EUniWell representatives, attended the first meeting of the European Student Assembly (ESA) in Strasbourg. The event was the first in a series of gatherings, which aim to promote student collaboration and impact across the European University Alliances.

In late 2021, more than 800 students across Europe applied to take part in the inaugural Session of the European Student Assembly (ESA). From 3-4 March 2022, following a rigorous application process, 275 students from across Europe gathered together in Strasbourg, the permanent seat of the European Parliament, to mark the ESA. The aims of the conference included fostering collaboration across European University Alliances, as well as enabling students to feel their voices were heard in the Conference on the Future of Europe via the creation and presentation of recommendations.

EUniWell was one of the 38 alliances invited to attend the ESA. Amel Anane (former EUniWell Chief Student Officer and Chair of the Birmingham Board), Sloan Kudrinko (EUniWell Student Board Executive Member, Semmelweis), Félix Takács (Member of the EUniWell Student Board and Vice-President of the Students’ Union, Semmelweis) and Bálint Tripolszky (President of the Students’ Union, Semmelweis) and were honoured to represent EUniWell at the ESA.

Prior to the conference taking place, students were split into ten panels, each focussing on areas including climate change, cyber security, the economy and health.

In the two months leading up to the ESA, each panel scheduled a minimum of two meetings to discuss and engage with an expert in their panel’s topic. These sessions were crucial to the success of the ESA because they allowed the students to ask questions, learn different opinions and listen to an in depth discussion with an expert in their field. Sloan Kudrinko, Félix Takács and Bálint Tripolszky were part of the Health panel as they are students of dentistry and medicine at Semmelweis University. The aim of each Panel was to produce ten Policy Proposals which answer the panel’s key question. These proposals were collected and will be submitted to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

On the first day of the ESA, attendees met at the European Parliament where students learnt about the structure of the organisation and how MEPs engaged with one another through committees and political parties within Parliament.

As Sloan Kudrinko, Félix Takács and Bálint Tripolszky took part in the Health panel, they were able to discuss a multitude of ideas to better the health care system across Europe, which included the main question: Do we need a European Health Union? During these meetings they discussed issues including national sovereignty, developing a unified approach to common struggles. These fruitful discussions enabled the health panel to come together at the ESA to create ten proposals. These proposals were based on the following ideas: digital health, health policies/regulations, sovereignty vs solidarity, the link between academic research and healthcare, healthcare workers, costs of healthcare between countries, cross border healthcare, mental health and climate change & One Health.

During the plenary meeting the results of the panels’ discussions were presented to the entire assembly. Attendees voted in favor of proposals designed by students for the future of Europe. At the conference, students heard from a number of MEPs, presidents of student bodies across Europe, and gained a better understanding and appreciation of the European higher education system.

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Eszter Turopoli (Directorate of International Relations)
Photo: Directorate of International Relations