The article seeks to advance understanding of the involvement of transnational student associations in European governance of higher education policies within the European Union (EU) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Specifically, the article explores the mechanisms for interest intermediation that exist for transnational student associations in both policy arenas. Three transnational student associations stand out in terms of their involvement: European Students’ Union (ESU), Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and European Students’ Forum (AEGEE). The findings point to two distinct models of student interest intermediation in European policy-making. Within the EU, the European Commission interacts with all three transnational student associations; however, ESU and ESN participate in more expert and working groups. The roles afforded to each association in relation to the European Commission are demarcated and functionally differentiated. Within EHEA, in neo-corporatist fashion, ESU, as a representative platform of national student unions, holds representational monopoly. In the EHEA and the EU, the involvement of transnational student associations in policy-making can be attributed to the evolving nature of transnational governance regimes in which participation of transnational student associations not only brings expertise to but also aids the legitimacy of the policy processes and outcomes.
Keywords Transnational student associations, European Students’ Union (ESU), Erasmus Student Network (ESN), European Students’ Forum (AEGEE), European Union (EU), European Higher Education Area (EHEA), multi-level governance, higher education policies