Spain is pioneering the new Erasmus+ Master Loan Guarantee Scheme, which will allow higher education students to apply for financial support to do their Master’s abroad. As of mid-June, Spanish students looking to do a one or two-year Master’s in one of the 33 Erasmus+ Programme Countries –or students from these countries wishing to do the same in Spain –may apply for a special loan from Microbank, the programme’s first partner bank. The loan scheme is being set up together with the European Investment Fund and is expected to raise up to EUR 3 billion in loans for mobile postgraduate students up till 2020. At that time, it is likely that many more banks –an estimated 20 or 25–will have signed up to the scheme, expanding the range of postgraduate destinations for Erasmus+ students.
Under the scheme, launched earlier this year by the European Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF), students can borrow up to EUR 12 000 for a one-year Master’s course and EUR 18 000 for a two-year Master’s course. These loans will be offered by partner banks at favourable terms: Interest rates will be relatively low and graduates will be able to defer payment until they find a decent job. Moreover, in an effort to ensure quality of access, the loans will not require collateral from the borrowers or their parents. In this way, the Erasmus+ Master Loan Guarantee Scheme hopes to tackle one of the main obstacles to student mobility.
The European Students’ Union (ESU) has raised concerns regarding the Erasmus+ Master Loan Scheme since it was first announced three years ago. In their view, the scheme lacks supporting research showing that it will not lead to brain drain, or plunge even more students into long-term debt. Instead of loans, the ESU argues, more grants should be made available by the states to help disadvantaged students study abroad. But it is worth noting that the scheme complements, and does not replace, the many Erasmus+ grants already available to students.
European Commission press relase