Students from across Europe gathered in Loughborough on 8-9 July for the 14th Annual Student Forum conference. In this post Grant Stirling, University of Edinburgh, reports from a key note by Professor Helen Drake, on the role of UACES and similar organisations in European Integration.
Conferences rarely start with a semi-organised ‘march on the conference venue’, but at around 9.15am on Monday 8 July 2013, with Loughborough bathed in glorious sunshine, the majority of the research students gathered from various parts of Europe for the UACES Student Forum 14th annual research conference, set off on a leisurely stroll (OK maybe ‘march’ was going a bit far!) from their accommodation in Loughborough town centre to the University in an impressive convoy, for the start of this year’s conference.
After a warm welcome to Loughborough from Loughborough PhD student and Chair of the UACES Student Forum, Lena Sucker, Professor Helen Drake also of Loughborough University and the current UACES Chair, gave this year’s keynote address.
Professor Drake began by discussing the history of UACES, referring to a meeting of academics in London in 1967 of the forerunner to UACES, the ‘Group for European Integration Studies’ and describing how in its early days, one of the key roles of UACES was publishing a register of ongoing research on EU matters.
Professor Drake went on to discuss the current and future challenges facing UACES, pointing out that as a charity, UACES is required to deliver wide benefits.
In this connection, Professor Drake reminded the audience that UACES must not lose sight of its obligations in terms of being registered with the UK charity regulator, but that UACES is also keen to increase its profile outside the UK both in other parts of Europe and beyond. The decisions to hold the 2014 UACES annual conference in Cork, Ireland and the 2015 conference in Spain were cited as examples of efforts in this direction.
Professor Drake gave an indication of both the profile of the organisation and its increasingly international make-up when stating that UACES now has a membership of approximately 1,250, more than half of which reside outside the UK, with the members being spread across 52 countries, 15 of which are outside Europe’s borders.
The final section of Professor Drake’s speech and the focus of the question and answer session were on the importance of the members – including of course the participants in the Student Forum conference – in bringing new ideas to the table for achieving the aims of UACES. On that note, it was over to the conference research student participants.
Grant Stirling, UACES Student Forum, Logistics and Finance Officer and PhD Student at the University of Edinburgh.