Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister for Education, is considering to have the European Union guarantee study loans. She expects more internationals to come study in The Netherlands then and this is beneficial for Dutch government funds.

Bussemaker has had a proposal of the European Commission (EC) researched, named: ‘Erasmus Master Guarantee facility’. The EC proposes to have the European Union (EU) guarantee  the loans students get for taking a master program abroad, starting from 2014. The idea behind this measure is that this way the risk for the banks is being diminished, and this will in turn lead to loans being cheaper.

Lending from DUO

Dutch students profit minimally from this European Guarantee facility, researchers conclude. This is because they already have the opportunity to borrow money to cheap rates, and may keep doing so if they go study at a university abroad. This will stay the same if the basic grants ends up being terminated, Bussemaker informs (in Dutch) the House of Representatives.

Internationalizing Education

Yet, she endorses the plan. This is because the researchers expect the amount of international students studying in the Netherlands to increase if lending becomes easier and cheaper. The effects of this increase turn out to be predominantly positive. Foreign students contribute to the internationalization of the educational system, to an increase of the amount of highly educated employees, and to a better  network for trade.

‘Preferably extra funds for Erasmusgrants’

The European Students Union, like the Dutch student union LSVb, opposes the new system of loan guarantee. The student organizations prefer Europe to spend its money on the popular Erasmus grants. In their opinion, it is a bad idea to encourage students to lend money.

Negotiations in process

The negotiations about the guarantee facility are still ongoing. This is because the facility is a part of the ‘Erasmus for all’ program of the EU for which a specific budget has not yet been determined, because the negotiations about the budget for the period 2014-2020 are still in process. The Netherlands will impose more requirements before it finally decides to approve of the guarantee facility. Bussemaker prefers to keep the budget limited and the plan has to pass the experimental phase before it is introduced definitely.

An agreement about the entire Erasmus program has to be reached before summer, but whether this deadline is being made remains to be seen according to Bussemaker. HOP/LJa