Statement from Nordiskt Ordförande Möte (NOM)- Oslo: 25.03-2012
Nordiskt Ordförande Möte (NOM) warmly welcomes the European Union’s Commission’s efforts on the proposal on the establishment of “Erasmus for All”. NOM is especially pleased of the clear sign from the Commission, emphasised by a significant increase in funding, that mobility and its importance to individuals as well as society is paramount. NOM wishes to underline that it is of key importance to ensure that a greater number of learners, especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds, have access to quality education and benefit from mobility.
As several studies have shown#, loan schemes will not be attractive to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Mobile students today tend to come from privileged backgrounds, so the proposed loan scheme would, at its worst, be an additional funding instrument for those who already have the possibility to be mobile. The current grant amount available to Erasmus students is not sufficient, especially for students coming from low socio-economic background and underrepresented groups, to be an realistic option.
As such, the proposed Mobility Loan Scheme has very little added value to Nordic and Baltic students. NOM finds that the Member States have been reluctant in finding solutions in how to make Bergen communique (2005) commitments on full portability of loans and grants happen. Therefore we believe that Commission is making it possible for the Member States to wiggle out of their political commitment. In the current climate of economic crisis and rising youth and graduate unemployment, this is irresponsible policy making.
Furthermore, we express our concern with the increasing amount of debt that students are being forced to take in order to pursue an academic career or higher education. Especially mobile students are suffering from an increase of their debt. We are critical of this development due to effects this has on social mobility and the risk students must take in order to participate in higher education.
As the EU finds it necessary to invest in mobility, NOM proposes that the amount allocated to the loan scheme, shall be transformed into mobility grants. Should there be a need for cuts from the proposed program, the ineffective and socially unequal mobility loan scheme should be the first to go.
There are also questions to be raised in connection with the structures of Erasmus for All. As it is now there are conceivable risks to the degree of youth involvement and the support for non-formal learning, if lumped together with policies and programmes for higher education. Active citizenship, youth participation and social inclusion should be at the core of those programmes. We strongly urge the Commission, the european parliament and the member states to keep in mind the value that non-formal learning can bring to lifelong learning.
“NOM (Nordiskt Ordförande Møte) is a cooperating network consisting of the Nordic and Baltic national umbrella-organisations for students in higher education. NOM first convened in Aarhus, Denmark in 1946 and meets twice a year to discuss and work on common challenges for students.