Sunday, 14 June 2009
British University places for British Students?
As the parent of two teenage children who are currently studying for A levels I was interested (if that is a strong enough word?) to read that British sixth formers could be "crowded out" of university places because of an increase in applications from candidates from the rest of the EU.
Applications for higher education in the UK in September have risen 8.8% from British candidates and applications from the rest of the European Union by 16.4%. The Government has set a 10,000 cap on additional places which means almost 50,000 potential student chasing 10,000 places.
Students from the EU are funded by the Government in the same way as British students, and count in an identical way towards universities' student quotas. The squeeze on places this year will mean even greater competition for courses. It is estimated that as many as 80,000 applicants could fail to find a place.
The vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University has warned that if British students are turned away, while EU students win places, it could lead to a backlash that mirrors the "British jobs for British workers" row. It will be difficult for the public to understand why a Polish student can get a place but their own kids can't. Once accepted onto a course the EU Students are entitled to the same grants and subsidised loans as British students. The EU Students are also supposed to pay back what they owe when they graduate, but more than half the EU students who should have started paying back such loans have failed to do so. The bill to the UK taxpayer is fairly small at the moment, just under £4,000,000 but it is getting bigger as students from the EU currently studying currently studying at British universities have borrowed, between them, a further £124 million to cover tuition fees and living costs.
Many who return to their home countries after graduation will never repay the money because there is currently no repayment mechanism outside of the UK. The Student Loan Company has to rely on students informing them of their earnings and making their own arrangements.