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EU loans could help poor students

As more students travel, a French expert has a stunning new plan: Let the EU bypass the stingy national student loans

Unlike some national governments, the EU won’t be asking for a pound of your flesh. This is certainly the hope of French higher education researcher Cécile Hoareau, whose report on student mobility will be presented at the next EU budget meeting, according to University World News.

Erasmus students who receive uneven, for some frankly meagre, national student loans may now have a better option headed their way.

Hoareau states that a European Credit Union should provide loans for students that are not from national governments. These loans would ideally cover all education costs for Erasmus students, and later all European students. Currently, the average Erasmus student is left to pay EUR 4,853 in educational costs even after Erasmus grants and national loans, Hoareau states in her report.

»We should compensate for the lack of funding for Erasmus students,« says Hoareau. »We’ll see how that goes, then if students benefit and the EU becomes more integrated, we can expand it.«

The University Post recently revealed large country and even university differences in payouts of Erasmus grants to students.

How it would work

Hoareau outlines a series of steps that must be taken for her plan to work.

The loans, which she estimates will cost Europe EUR 1.6 billion a year, would be partially subsidized through EU member states. The remaining subsidies could potentially be provided through the European Investment Bank, who would loan money to the European Trade Union. The ETU would then manage the loans.

If all goes as planned, students would apply through the ETU for the loan, and pay the loan off when they start working.

Challenges to the plan

The main problem is opposition from member states. Hoareau recognizes that these states may not be so willing to sacrifice financial responsibility to the EU.

In addition, students are often reluctant to take out loans to begin with, especially given the uncertainty of the job market. Students are wary to take out loans when they don’t know when they will be able to pay them back.

But if European states truly desire an international work environment, they will have to better support student mobility, Hoareau states. The loan plan is the best way to do so, she believes.

The future of the plan

The next EU budget meeting will be held in 2013, which is when Hoareau will present her report. She will also be looking for inspiration from US loan schemes.

Until then, students will continue to receive loans and aids from their respective countries.

Hoareau notes, though, that the disparities in these funds are a major road block in enhancing student mobility throughout Europe.

Read Hoareau’s full report here.

Read article Erasmus grants are not fair.

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