09.03.2013
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ESU tells the Icelandic government to make haste

REYKJAVIK – The European Students’ Union (ESU) encourages the Icelandic Parliament Althingi to give priority to a government bill making changes to the Icelandic loan system for students.

Students would be offered up to 25 per cent transformation of their student loans into grants if the legal proposal would be approved. This would be based on the requirement that students finish their studies within agreed time limits. It is therefore a matter of crucial interest to students in Iceland, who many rely on student loans to cover their study expenses. Full student loans amount to 1.256 million ISK (8 thousand euros) a year, or around 3.9 million ISK  (24 thousand euros) in three years. The average debt of those students that take these loans amounts to around 3 million ISK (18 thousand euros) upon their graduation.
Iceland could set a leading example
Today, Althingi will debate the legal proposal for the first time. ESU urges Althingi to process it as swiftly as possible as the parliament’s session will come to an end on Friday 15 March and parliamentary elections held in April in Iceland. A draft bill was first presented in 2011 and students have therefore been waiting ever since for the political decision to bring the issue forward.
It is positive to see that in times of decreasing student support in Europe, Iceland wants to head in the other direction. Iceland could set a leading example for other countries in Europe in higher education,” says Karina Ufert, the Chairperson of ESU.
ESU supports the vision of the Icelandic student body SHI and believes it would be a positive and logical step for the national authorities to take, as it would contribute to an equal access to education and partly remove financial burdens from graduates.
We can just compare Iceland to Denmark, where the government recently presented its ideas to make major cuts to the grant system for students and social welfare. Iceland can show Europe that it is possible to make smart investments in education, but Icelandic students still rely on Althingi to take up decision on the loans within the current mandate,” Ufert explains.
European students send their letters of support
European students have been encouraged to sign a statement of support for Icelandic students and send it to all of the country’s parliamentarians and ministers.
European students need to act in solidarity to encourage improved public investments in higher education,” Ufert emphasises.

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For more information, please contact:

Karina Ufert, ESU Chairperson: +32/473.669.892 // karina@esu-online.org or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 // robert@esu-online.org

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 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.

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