FINANCING EU STUDENT MOBILITY: A Proposed Credit Union Scheme for Europe
Governments worldwide face the challenge of financing a growing student population with limited resources, especially in the current context of difficult economic recovery. Student loan schemes, because they appear as cost-efficient and are defendable on the lines of social equity (students invest in their future), are increasingly politically attractive. It was therefore only a matter of time before the European Union considered the feasibility of implementing a similar scheme. Such a lending scheme faces EU-specific limitations. The Union has more limited resources than a fully-grown government. It is also bound by Treaty rules to complementary competencies and has to accommodate various levels of member states’ willingness to integrate further. This paper offers a general discussion on the design of an EU-wide lending scheme for students. It argues in favour of a European Credit Union for Students, an EU-wide agency liaising with the European Investment Bank to raise the necessary funds and subcontracting other institutions for the administration of the loans. This agency would start by financing loans for the relatively narrow pool of mobile students under the Erasmus scheme. Doing so, it would lay down the foundation for a further integration of financing capacities as/if the Union becomes ever closer.