More than 30 delegates representing 22 European countries attended the biannual meeting of the ETUCE Higher Education and Research Standing Committee (HERSC) which took place on 10-11 September 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia. The meeting was organised with the support of the ETUCE member organisation in Estonia, UNIVERSITAS.

HERSC members were welcomed by Mr Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General for higher education, research and language policy in the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia, who presented the achievements and challenges of the higher education and research in Estonia. Trade union strategies on higher education and research in Estonia were outlined by representatives of ETUCE member organisations in Estonia, UNIVERSITAS and Education Personnel Trade Union (EEPU).

At the meeting, HERSC members discuss about academic freedom, solidarity among higher education unions, and recent EU policy developments (European Education Area, European Universities). Participants also reflected on the outcomes of the Paris Ministerial Meeting which took place on 24-25 May 2018 and Paris Communique which was strongly influenced by HERSC and ETUCE.

This meeting served as an opportunity to finalise a HERSC Resolution on Strengthening academic freedom in Europe which is to be presented to the ETUCE Committee for its approval to be submitted to the upcoming ETUCE Special Conference on 27-28 November 2018.

In smaller working groups, HERSC members had an opportunity to exchange their experience and views organising higher education and research staff and ensuring democratic institutional governance in their countries. They highlighted that competition between trade unions and professional groups of academics and researchers, as well as precarious employment and short-term contracts are main challenges in organising higher education and research staff. HERSC members also noted that education trade unions need to double their efforts to ensure a more democratic institutional governance by initiating negotiations and cooperation with institutional governing bodies and ensuring that candidates with a democratic approach to governance are being elected in these bodies.

You can find pictures from the meeting here: