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Lobby sheet 4: Merit-based or needs-based student support

Argument: Needs-based student support should be the predominant form instead of merit-based support.

For the purposes of this discussion, the needs-based student support means grants that are allocated to students based on their socio-economic position. Merit-based student support are grants that are awarded to students based on their academic achievements.

Arguments pro:
  • In order to realise the maximum potential in the generation, state should support student from lower socio-economic background, who would otherwise not be able to enter higher education;
  • Academic results are connected also with the success in the education before entering higher education, and the research shows that students from higher socio-economic background have better results

Arguments con:
  • Needs-based student support doesn’t stimulate students to work harder and doesn’t stimulate excellency;
  • More successful students should be awarded for their achievements

Risk mitigation:
  • Mixed model of needs-based and merit-based support
  • Use other ways to award the successful students.

Resources and references:
Eurostudent: Social and Economic Conditions of Student Life in Europe 2008-2011(external link)
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: