International, Student Life

International Students' Day: interview with Lasse Emcken, new president of the Arqus Student Council

On The November 17, 2020

On November 17, Arqus joins the higher education community worldwide celebrating the International Students’ Day.

As a way to celebrate the International Students’ Day, we have held an interview with Lasse Emcken, the recently elected new President of the Arqus Student Council and we had a chat with Gohar Hovhannisyan, President of the European Students’ Union (ESU).

What do you think are the additional or new opportunities of a student of a university member of a European University Alliance?

To make international mobility easier should be at the forefront of our efforts. The average student of our universities would profit most if it is very easy, accessible and affordable to move to another country and study there. To achieve this, we need to integrate Arqus into every study programme at every of our seven universities, find ways to align the different grading systems and reduce overall bureaucracy. The goal should be to make a study trip abroad nearly as easy as registering for courses at the home university. It should be normal to have courses in English and other languages during the course of all study programs so that those studying abroad can join the average courses, meet regular students and don’t get stuck in the infamous Erasmus-Bubble. I also believe that PhD students could profit from the international perspective of their peers in Arqus. We just need to create places where they can find each other and improve our collective research effort.

How important is for you to be in touch with student representatives from the other Arqus universities?

It’s the most important part of my role as president of the Student Council. The fact that we still haven’t been able to meet in person remains a problem we only have partly been able to solve via digital means. In order to build true and lasting networks we need physical meetings - these times keep reminding us of that fact. Our hopes now rest on the vaccine research processes.

Can you briefly tell us how you have organised yourselves in the Arqus Students Council?

We currently have 14 students - two from every university. There is a president, a vice-president and two members of the steering committee. We collaborate via mail, on a telegram chat and have monthly meetings. Just recently we started to participate more intensively in the Action Lines to integrate the students' views even more into Arqus’ activities. Additionally we started to write ourselves a statute to enhance our internal collaboration and reduce misunderstandings.

How do you envisage Arqus in 2030?

Of the goals for the European University Initiative and the creation of the European Higher Education Area laid out in Emmanuel Macrons speech New Initiative for Europe, the one most important for us is that half of all European students should have spent at least six months in another European country by the time they are 25 years old. And I’m excited that we will jointly work to achieve this goal as the University of Vilnius has prominently showed their support by awarding President Macron the Doctor Honoris Causa for this very speech. This gives me great confidence that Arqus will play a core role making this vision a reality. I hope that we will be allowing more than half of our students to study abroad in our seven cities by 2030.

Lasse Emcken is the President of the Arqus Student Council. Besides studying M.A. Sociology as well as B.Sc. Geography he has a long experience in student representation. This covers broad areas such as organizing trips and tours for new students or trying to improve the transportation infrastructure for students in Leipzig to representing the students in legislative processes of the regional parliament.

Read the full interview