09.08.2004
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EC in Favour of Tuition Fees

On September the 8th, the European Commission released a paper entitled “Efficiency and Equity in European Education and Training systems” . In this communication the European Commission openly supports tuition fees, but backs up its’ suggestions with flawed arguments and unsubstantiated claims.

As ESIB Chairperson, Justin Fenech, points out: “It is quite absurd that the Commission is basing its tuition fee propaganda to the Council and European Parliament on speculative evidence that is either ‘too recent to have been fully studied’ or is taken from higher education contexts which are so different from the European Higher Education area” (results from studies undertaken in Australia and the US are given).

The topic of increasing access to education has already been a priority in past communications on higher education, but now for the first time ever, the commission speaks on access to education as a whole. Unfortunately, access to higher education is simply reduced to a question of finances: the introduction of tuition fees and student loans.
Saying that tuition fees reinforce student motivation is another deceptive argument. The Commission appears to be insinuating that the higher the fees – the higher the students’ motivation. The reality is often quite the opposite; students drop out of higher education due to the pressures of following a full-time course whilst having to sustain a full-time job.  What motivates students is being able to fully concentrate on their studies while also being able to actively participate in student life.

ESIB acted upon this communication by releasing a statement , and producing a press release. Armed with these tools we call upon the European Council and the European Parliament to refer this flawed communication back to the Commission and, as ever, reiterate our desire that the European Commission engages in a discussion with students.

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