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The cost of study in Europe

Posted by Nick Prag at 23 October 2014, 16:30 CET |

Students wanting to study in Europe face a wide divergence in the levels of student fees and support, according to the latest report from Eurydice, the network which provides information on European education systems and policies.

The report covers 33 European countries, and reveals in the main that fee systems have remained relatively stable across the continent.

It does show that students pay relatively high fees up front in Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and the Netherlands.

At the other end of the scale, English students put up with the highest tuition fees in Europe, following a major overhaul of its higher education system in 2012.

However, England boasts a unique model in Europe. Students in England only need to start paying back their loans once their earnings exceed a defined threshold.

Improving access to higher education for young Europeans is seen as a key aim of EU education policy.

It greatly improves their chances of getting a good job, according to Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. It also "enhances economies, which are in need of the innovation and creativity that talented graduates bring."

Students paying what appear to be huge fees to receive an education are unlikely soon to see a return to the free higher education that some of us were lucky enough to receive way back in the last century.

In fact a report published by the Commission earlier this year showed that the introduction of tuition fees has usually led to an increase in the total amount of resources made available for higher education.

It also showed that tuition fees do not in fact have an overall negative impact on enrolments in higher education - even among those students from lower socio-economic groups - unless the magnitude of change is exceptional.

However, Commissioner Vassiliou stressed the importance of accompanying measures, including grants, "to ensure equal access to higher education for all, especially students from disadvantaged backgrounds."

However, students in England will be interested to learn that Germany recently abolished its student tuition fees, even though they only introduced them in 2007.

Maybe the answer to high fees is for them all to move to Germany.

Student Fee and Support Systems in European Higher Education

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.