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    Week of the Student: Share your opinion on the education of the future

    The Week of the Student will take place from 18 to 21 February. This is a week completely dedicated to you, the VUB student. The Student Council will organise various activities related to the future of education. Student Council Chair Lise Vermeersch tells us why it is so important that you join them.

    The second semester is fast approaching. This means back to class, parties and also some study. But engagement is also a vital part of student life at the VUB. Student Council Chair and Civil Engineering student Lise Vermeersch gives us a sneak peek into the Week of the Student. From 18 to 21 February you will get to know what the Student Council does, you can debate about the future of education and relax during a game night or the VUBrusselt closing party in the centre of town.

    What’s going to happen during the Week of the Student?

    During the Week of the Student we want to show the VUB students who we are and what we do as Student Council. We want to let our members tell their story: why did I get involved, what are my responsibilities, what do I like, what don’t I like as much. Usually we work on projects that aren’t as visible. Even I didn’t know what to expect when I joined. It’s only when you get thrown in at the deep end that you really experience what it’s like to be an active Student Council member. By organising the Week of the Student we want to change this and give students an idea of what we do. There will also be various workshops during the International Student Conference. This will mainly deal with international themes, but isn’t only for international students. It’s our aim to bring the local and international students together to discuss these themes. After every serious activity everyone is welcome to join us in our office for a game or movie night.

    Why is the Week of the Student so important for VUB students?

    The theme is the future of education because we find ourselves upon a tipping point. We’ve done the same thing for the past 500 years. It’s interesting to see we have embraced things as online learning and community learning. The time has come to think about education, especially because a university is the perfect place to do this. This is why one of our debates is about the ECTS credit system, as part of the style we want our education to evolve in. During VUBrusselt (the event in the centre of Brussels on the 21st of February) we are organising a panel discussion about the future of education. If we know our students’ points of view we can incorporate these in the debate.

    What can students learn from the debate?

    If you are a student at our university you know what you expect and what you want our educational system to evolve into. I think it can also be interesting to widen your perspective and to listen to what others are up to. To know what the people who shape our university are undertaking and what their plans for the future are. Even if you might not agree entirely it can be fascinating to listen to these ideas.

    Can international students join?

    Of course. We work with a registration system for VUBrusselt so students can indicate if they speak English. Then we will organise a separate debate in English for those students, just like we did with the calibration tests debate. It’s interesting for us to get their point of view as well because they come from a different background as international students. The panel debate will only be held in Dutch, but ESN will organise a simultaneous pub crawl. Participants will get a free drink when they come to the VUBrusselt party after the debate.

    Where did the idea come from to organise VUBrusselt?

    The idea to organise a Student Council event in the centre of Brussels was initially suggested by rector Caroline Pauwels. Due to the bad public transport connection between the Etterbeek campus and the centre few students ventured into town. This is what prompted the request for a night bus, which was eventually implemented. Even today students don’t explore the centre of our town enough. This is a key point for us. We try to communicate about exciting and fun events in town.

    How do you try and involve students at the moment?

    We have already put a lot of effort into our social media and we also want to expand our website. We are looking at recurring ways to publish our views and reports. For example: we publish videos about the things we decide on during meetings. Otherwise it’s very difficult for others to get a proper idea of what we do. We also participate in fun VUB events like the Kick-Off and the 24h of the VUB for charity. We have also been asked to organise more debates on campus. We do hold lots of internal debates in the Student Council, but these usually don’t reach the student population.

    Do students find their way to the Student Council with questions or suggestions?

    We get lots of random e-mails and I always like this. It is no effort at all for us to guide you to the right department if you have problems with your tuition fees and you don’t know who to contact or if you have structural problems. The more students contact us, the better. Also via Facebook. We do need to work on our accessibility. If you don’t know us already, it’s unlikely you will find us. We want to make the Student Council more top of mind among the students.

    During the Week of the Student the Student Council candidacy period starts. How did you get involved?

    My former roommate was the Student Council Chair. I was up for a new challenge, because before the Student Council I was mainly involved in the fraternities. I only realised how much fun it really is after I joined.

    What is the best part of being part of the Student Council?

    The very best part is when people come to me and tell me what they have accomplished. Then I’m very proud! This is a feeling I’ve had from the very start. Sometimes they come to me with completely thought out projects and I think “Wow, excellent!”. To feel the Student Council is alive and kicking is really nice.

    What have you learned?

    So much! But mainly how to organise meetings efficiently. I’ve had to learn how manage time to the 1000th factor. I’ve also had to learn not to worry about everything. You can’t dwell on every little mistake, because otherwise you never stop. I’ve had trouble delegating things because I don’t like to micromanage people. A lot of people say a Student Council Chair mandate looks good on a CV, but that doesn’t compare to the skills you acquire by having done it. Especially in academic programmes that don’t emphasise the so called soft skills and social contact. These are skills you need to hone. Otherwise you’ll end up in a job without knowing how the real world works. It’s a real experience, a gift that you get. It’s not always easy, but it never is if it’s worthwhile.

    Do you want to know more about what you can do as a student? Come to the Week of the Student and find out!