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It is no secret that Europe has faced enormous changes in the past few years and is continuing to do so in relation to youth unemployment. Several initiatives of the European Union in higher education seek to combat this development in Europe. The Europe 2020 and Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) strategies both outline headline targets and benchmarks for higher education policy reform in Europe. To achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 strategy and ET2020, the European Commission launched in 2011 a Communication entitled “Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems”, from now on referred to as the modernisation agenda. The modernisation agenda for higher education fixes five key priorities for higher education in the EU to support the main strategies.

Those five key priorities are:

1. Increasing the number of higher education graduates.
2. Improving the quality and relevance of teaching and learning.
3. Promoting the mobility of students and staff and cross-border cooperation.
4. Strengthening the knowledge triangle linking education, research and innovation.
5. Creating effective governance and funding mechanisms for higher education.

The Modernisation Agenda, while containing several policy recommendations that the students through ESU have supported and pushed for, can sometimes be problematic in the way it is implemented. As part of the SAGE project, country case studies were conducted to shed light on the perspectives of national unions of students across Europe on different aspects of the Modernisation Agenda and its implementation. Unions from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain shared their views on these issues.