EU’s plans for modernising Higher Education horrify European students

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is utterly disappointed that the European Commission’s Modernisation Agenda for Higher Education, published 20 September, promotes student debt. Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson, said: “The EU’s Executive has failed to send out a clear message about government investments into higher education. We furthermore do not agree on their objective to promote mobility mainly through loans and private contributions.”

Roll back on investment
The Commissions’ Communication, in their own words a ‘strategy to boost the number of graduates and improve the quality of education’, does not send out a clear signal to the national EU governments on investing in higher education. Päll said: “Whereas the Commission pushed in their Annual Growth Survey (April 2011) for a minimum of 2% of the EU country’s GDP investment into higher education to achieve all the Europe 2020 targets (*) concerning education, they now apparently forgot to include it.”

Students say no to EU loan guarantee scheme
The text furthermore proposes an Erasmus Masters Degree Mobility Scheme through offering student loans, provided by banks that benefit from an EU loan guarantee. ESU is very skeptical towards this and would like to see development of better financial support to mobile students instead.

Päll: “A mobility loan scheme facilitated by the EU is not attractive and effective as there is a high risk that the loans will be very expensive for students, especially to those coming from low earning EU countries. This is a petty compensation for the failure of ministers to make national funding portable.” ESU holds the opinion that the Commission should first of all expand access to and size of Erasmus Grants.

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Published: 20 September 2011


For more information, please contact:
Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson: +32/479.591.499 or allan@esu-online.org or Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 or marianne@esu-online.org

( *) The EU’s ‘Europe 2020 strategy’ wants to ensure a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The two education targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy say that by 2020 less than 10 percent of the population aged 18-24 should have left school early and that at least 40 percent of the EU’s young adults (30-34) should have completed tertiary or equivalent education.
(**) Full EU strategy for modernising higher education: http://ec.europa.eu/education/higher-education/doc/com0911_en.pdf