BRUSSELS - Participants in a roundtable discussion arranged by the European Students’ Union (ESU) were generally concerned about the effect that a student loan scheme proposed by the European Commission could have on higher education in Europe.
Among participants in the discussions organised by ESU on Wednesday 14 November were representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, EU Member States, student and stakeholder organisations as well as academics. The event took place at the premises of the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU in Brussels. Elisabeth Gehrke, a member of the executive committee of the European Students’ Union, chaired the meeting. Adam Tyson, Head of Unit of Higher Education and Erasmus at the European Commission, explained the content and the reasoning for the proposal.
Representatives from several EU Member States voiced technical and political concerns about the proposal, for example whether it would be justifiable to make students cover the cost of their education. The participants generally agreed that it is very important to ensure that students will not be chased by banks because of their expenses for education. The scheme might also have negative consequences on geographical disparities and social equality in Europe as it would fail to meet the needs of different student groups and countries. Before being implemented, the proposal would therefore have to be considered and discussed carefully so that it takes all points of view into account.
The ‘Erasmus for All’ programme was presented by the European Commission in November 2011. ‘Erasmus for All’ is part of the Commission’s proposal for the multi-annual budget for 2014-2020 and allocates 19.5 billion euros to education and training. The EU Loan Guarantee Facility would be a part of that programme and would be made available for students who carry out a Masters degree in another EU country.
In a recent non-paper adopted by ESU it voiced serious concerns over the establishment of a European loan guarantee facility. ESU believes the proposal barely reflects the future prospects of young graduates in the EU and that it would have a serious brain drain effect as it fails to address disparities among regions in terms of higher education. The conditions offered by the scheme are not beneficial to students as it would increase their level of debt significantly.
The European Parliament will debate the proposal on 26 or 27 November.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 38 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.