BRUSSELS – The EU Education, Youth and Sports Council hopes to reach political agreement on a Council Recommendation dubbed ‘The learning mobility of young people’, at their meeting on 20 May in Brussels. However, according to the European Students’ Union (ESU) some crucial elements are absent in the final document which most likely will get the green light from the EU education ministers. The text forms part of the EU’s Youth on the Move initiative.
The original European Commission proposal for the Recommendation included a reference to ‘legal rights of mobile students’. After some member states tried to delete this, ESU proposed to include a paragraph which would recommend improving access to information and guidance on legal rights under EU-law for students who study abroad. However, in the final wording any reference to legal rights for international students is entirely deleted. Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson said: “Clearly, the member states are trying to run away from legal obligations under EU law to give rights to international students.”
20% mobility by 2020
Vandenkendelaere continued: “If the EU countries want to make the 20% of the students studying abroad by 2020 a reality, legal rights for those students should be improved. On top of that, the EU budget for higher education and in particular the budget aimed at mobility should be increased.” In the final Recommendation, the reference to the portability of loans and grants is very weak. Vandenkendelaere: “The education ministers look hesitant to address the problem of insufficient mobility with their own budgets. However, this is the biggest obstacle to mobility and it is a shame that the recommendation fails to address this.”
The Commission is looking into the options of EU loan schemes as a way to improve mobility. ESU is very critical towards setting up such a pan-European student loans scheme as it thinks loans often block students from lower socio-economic backgrounds to study abroad due to debt aversion. The Council Recommendation “takes note” of the Commissions intention to establish a loan scheme in one of the footnotes but falls short, according to ESU, to take position on what real options there are for supporting learning mobility through European actions.
Published: 19 May 2011
For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson: +32473669892 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32473669894 or email@example.com
Annex: EU Council Recommendation “Promoting the learning mobility of young people”