BM 62 – Resolution on Postgraduate Mobility Loans
Whilst ESU’s stance against mobility loans is laudable and right in principle, all the indicators are pointing towards a European wide loan system to be implemented anyway. It has been NUS UK’s bitter experience that by refusing to be involved in discussions about the implementation of a new system, students receive a significantly worse deal. This has proven to be true for NUS UK in 1998, and 2004 when fees were first introduced and then raised. Then the student voice was not represented. In 2010, when fees were raised again, NUS UK was unfortunately unable to prevent the increase, but was able to secure some vital concessions – such as the introduction of part-time student loans (where no support had existed at all before).
It is in this context that NUS UK believes that it is vital that ESU engages in the development of a postgraduate mobility loan scheme, should the European Commission move to implement it. Whithout ESU engagement the loan scheme implemented could be incredibly detrimental to students.
Should the European loan scheme be adopted, ESU and national unions (should they wish to) should lobby the European Commission and Ministers respectively to ensure only the most favourable loan system is implemented. Such a system should include:
– securing a stable and minimum interest rate, that does not exceed interest payments above the ‘real’ rate of interest. A subsidy should be provided by the Commission to ensure this is the case.
– A 20 year cap on repayment time.
– No requirement for the graduate to start repayment until they have graduated from their course.
– No requirement for graduates to start repayments unless they are earning above the average salary of their country of living.
– a loan scheme that is fully income contingent
– Monitoring of access to the loans to ensure that it is supporting a widening of access.
– a loan scheme that is complementing and not competing with existing mobility financial support (eg. portable national loans and grants and EU mobility programmes)
– the majority of default rate risk should rest with the EU
– loan contracts that give a fair set of rights for students and ensure unbiased procedures in the case of complaints
– effective administration and communication at central EU level in order to prevent national commercial banks to earn revenue from a scheme funded by students and the public
– that in the event of extreme personal circumstance repayment can be suspended and deferred
– student representation in the governance and management of such a loan scheme