Concerns remain over student debt in Erasmus+ programme
MEPs are expected to approve in plenum today a review of the accomplishments of Erasmus+ programme though Curzio Maltese, the GUE/NGL coordinator at the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), has expressed concerns about the student loans mechanism of the scheme.
Maltese has been highly critical of the Student Loans Guarantee Facility of Erasmus+ in which applicants take out bank loans backed by the European Commission as a part-guarantor against possible student defaults. He has already tabled an amendment in relation to this.
Erasmus+ combines all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport whilst the 30-year-old Erasmus scholarship and student exchange programme remains free.
Just 130 students in three member states have applied for the loans since they became available in 2015 but the goal is to expand the debt facility to more students.
Speaking at the debate late on Wednesday night, Maltese said:
“Let's be clear. Erasmus is one of the few successes of this institution and worked well for years.”
“Now, we are transforming it into a student loans system – inspired by an American model that is proven to have failed in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
“When Erasmus+ was approved in 2014, other than its positive aspects such as a truly integrated model across many fields, it also introduced a virus: the student loans virus.”
“This system has led to disastrous results in the United States by creating a bubble of 1,300 billion of largely uncollectable debt that threatens to engulf the entire credit system,” he warned.
“So, we're well on our way to destroying one of the last remaining popular and much-loved EU initiatives for a failed model from elsewhere. This will provide the Eurosceptics with yet more ammunition against the EU – and they have enough of those already,” argued Maltese.