Lobby sheet 1: Inclusion of student support in financing of Higher Education

Argument: Students living costs should be covered 100% by the state.

Arguments pro:
  • Increased access and completion of higher education: lower socio-economic background would not be a barrier for access and completion to higher education. Educational system is open for anybody who can/wants to study;
  • Student support may prevent students from dropping out/finishing their studies without degree because they have run out of money;
  • Student autonomy: even though a family earns enough to formally support the student, they can still decide not to support him/her;
  • When students has their living costs fully covered by the state, they don’t have to work and can focus on their studies;
  • Society benefits from the graduates their knowledge and expertise. So it is fair to ask that the government cover all expenses.

Arguments con:
  • Students from higher socio-economic background would not need 100 % state finances in order to be able to study;
  • Students wouldn’t learn to appreciate earning money themselves/ being rewarded for their own work…;
  • Higher education is also an investment in yourself because you will benefit later in life with a bigger salary/higher earnings;
  • With a lot of students (massification), costs of 100% student funding would be very high, which have to be compensated by more public spending;
  • Vulnerable to fraud. The system needs very strict rules and regulations, which require significant monitoring and lead to high bureaucratic costs.

Risk mitigation:
  • The system could be linked to an amount of study points you get per year;
  • Limit the number of years that students are eligible for the support;
  • If students need to pay for their own living costs, low-income students should be compensated;
  • The living costs for students can be reduced by offering free or discounted use of public transport, free or discounted insurances and other discounts.

Resources and references:
Eurydice: Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Funding and the Social Dimension 2011(external link)
Eurydice: National Student Fee and Support Systems 2011/12(external link)

Possible systems and countries to compare:
  • Grants (and loans) available to all students: Malta, Denmark, Cyprus
  • Grants (and loans) available to majority of students and are covering majority of the costs: Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK
  • No grants available: Iceland, Turkey
  • Less than 50% of students receive grants: Hungary, Belgium – Flemish community, Ireland, France
  • Less than 25% of students receive grants: Belgium – French community, Bulgaria, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia

For more information, check the FINST Compendium on Financing of Higher Education – Part 2: Comparative Analysis of Funding systems and Part 4: Future Funding Scenarios of Higher Education (especially Scenario II).