EU students in UK universities

Kings College Cambridge (freefoto)
King’s College Cambridge (freefoto)

Let me propose a subject to be placed on the agenda at once …. a rebate. With Britain’s contribution to the EU budget rising to £6.4 billion, and the country’s finances so parlous that London babies are being buried in paupers’ graves, we have no option but to raise this at EU level

On June 17, David Cameron will travel to Brussels for his first EU summit as prime minister. When the silence falls and the goggling interpreters prepare for the first words to be heard from a Tory prime minister in 13 years, he will be thinking – like all British PMs – of two audiences.

To his new amigos he will want to send out a powerful message that the UK is ready to lead in Europe and to ensure that the EU is a force for good. And to the millions of voters back home he will simultaneously want to signal that he will stick up for this country’s interests and that he will not allow us to be ripped off by our friends and partners in Brussels.

Let me therefore propose one subject that needs to be placed on the agenda at once. I know such comparisons are not thought helpful these days, but it is the kind of thing that Margaret Thatcher would have fished out of her handbag in the first half hour. As we all know, the economic crisis is hitting young people hard. We have rising unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds, and the shortage of jobs has driven huge numbers to apply for university – at the very moment when the Government is asking universities to accept deep cuts in funding.

We are warned that at least 100,000 British applicants will fail this year to get a place. Add those to the 46,000 who failed last year, and you have a lot of heartache. I am not one of those, by the way, who advocates savage cuts in the number of students or the closure of second-rate universities. The overwhelming evidence is still that graduates, on the whole, earn more than non-graduates. Whenever you find a pub bore arguing that kids these days would be better off skipping university and going straight into hod-carrying, just say: “Oh yeah, and what about your kids?” Who are these kids who would be better off missing uni and getting stuck in on building sites? Other people’s kids, that’s who.

Of course, not every graduate will get the job he or she thinks they “deserve” – and many of them frankly need to be more realistic. But higher education is still generally a liberating and enriching thing, and that is why we should sort out its finances.

Oxford’s Chancellor, Chris Patten, has called for the cap on fees to be lifted, and that looks sensible, provided it can be done without disadvantaging students from poorer backgrounds. But then, what about the millions in the middle – those who are neither too rich to care nor too poor to qualify for help?

One of the reasons I passionately support our university system is that it is among the best in the world. Even our online institutions are doing well. Of course, the old universities and their buildings are what we are famous for.London alone has more top-100 universities than any other city on earth, and we attract many of the brightest students on the planet.

The income from foreign students contributes more than £5 billion to British higher education. But when I say foreign students, I mean, of course, students from outside the EU – because EU students have the most incredible deal, and they know it.

This year British universities are educating 62,000 students from other EU countries, and applications for next year are up 36 per cent. They are flooding in from Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Sweden and elsewhere, and they are not only taking 5 per cent of the places, but they are also receiving colossal subsidies from the UK taxpayer. The subsidy for teaching is put at £4,000, and then they have the heavily subsidised £3,255 in loans to pay for the tuition fees, a loan that only becomes repayable once they have left university and reached a certain level of income.

There is only one answer. We need a rebate. With Britain’s net contribution to the EU budget rising to an amazing £6.4 billion, and with the country’s finances so parlous that London babies are being buried in paupers’ graves, we have no option but to raise this at the EU level. When Dave has finished with the mellifluous banalities about partnership and the heart of Europe, he should attire himself in cerulean blue, and pearls, and a pineapple-coloured wig; and he should cry: “We are paying for your students – and we want our money back!”

And then he should hit the Brussels table with a heavy black handbag until they get the message.

You can find this article as a whole in today’s Daily Telegraph here together with all the latest news and views.

30 thoughts on “EU students in UK universities”

  1. This is certainly an issue worth bringing up, although hardly an original one.

    We are bound to lose out forever from this EU university free-for-all, because far more students want to come to this country (and learn English) than British students will ever want do the reverse.

    Anyone who’s been to university abroad as I have will know that it’s a lot duller than a British university, with very little in the way of clubs and societies, and most students either living at home or going home every weekend.

    This is the type of thing that makes UKIP look very attractive.

  2. Its worse than this; at Scottish Universities, Scottish and non UK EU members have free spaces denied to those Sassenachs who have paid for the places.

  3. Once again Boris the voice of reason and action.
    If only David would listen and act on your advice.
    Education is the most important part of life and produces great statesmen and leaders.
    Two spring to mind that have been ridiculed for statements they made but were proved right.
    I refer to Winston Spencer Churchill and George S Patton.
    Both beleived they were reincarnated from an earlier life.
    Wether this was because of thier classic education or they beleived thier own retoric both succeded in saving many lives and gave to thier countries pride and security.
    I have never suported the E.U. as this is an island nation and in hard times we have had to stand alone.
    Perhaps it is time that the British Lion roared .

  4. It would be interesting to know what a young British person’s chances of getting a place in an Italian or Polish University would be. This would seem to be an example of us being punished for the quality of our educational establishments being of such high quality just as, in the past, our farmers have been punished because of the superiority of British agriculture compared to, say, the German model. The European Union simply does not work for Britain!

  5. Chapeau!!! All the millions of Brits living and ‘touristing’ in France and Spain, with better health-care systems, please contribute then!!!
    UK=London+English(thanks to the US)+Universities. These are the industries that sustain the country; what about the accomodation costs, living expenses, leisure, VAT, these “lucky” EU students contribute in? That’s a good share of the GDP.
    France and Germany (and the US and Canada) will be more than happy to take over those students if fees increase beyond a reasonable point. It is simply not true that British universities have better facilities, it is because English is the lingua franca that many students choose to come to the UK, pure and simple. Ergo, British universities are far more open. Don’t screw it up.

    As for the British contribution please deduct what it is invested back in the country (CAP, regional funds, cohesion funds, etc.)

    Don’t like the EU? Please quit, you’re welcome.

  6. I am sure that Geoff Hoon will be extremely grateful for the job leads and suggestions to raise cash, ie. donate a kidney, or work as an internet gigolo, hahaha.

    Can’t see him raising much from the last suggestion, but anything is worth a try…..

  7. I had a laugh too at the Geoff Hoon thing. On second thoughts it’s not all that funny.

    I work in the public sector and have access to all sorts of information that I could use to line my pockets unethically.

    Of course, if I did, I would probably end up in prison.

  8. The fact that graduates earn more than non-graduates does not prove that they have benefitted from going to University. The most economical explanation is that they are brainier and more hardworking than non-graduates.

    For many, I suggest, University is a three-year doss between education and work.

    Tiresias MA (Cantab)

  9. Of course, the UK; our generous and naive country, is being screwed by crafty citizens of other EU and non EU countries left, right and centre. But it is very difficult to discuss about matters like this without being labeled “xenophobic” or “racist” – thanks to Labour’s systematical brainwashing programme during the past 17 years. Being brainwashed so systematically that most people don’t even notice that they have been brainwashed. Admit that I am right, folks.

    Of course, Labour do know this great country UK is being screwed by other countries. But they just don’t care. They have been doing anything they can to turn this country into a big mess for these reasons:

    – To spite the Tories for those 18 Labour years in Opposition.
    – To make this great country lose her identity.
    – To make a big mess of this country before they lose their power to the next party ( again to spite the Tories for those 18 Labour years in Opposition ).
    – Because they are socialists-cum-communists. And socialists/communists tend to make a mess of everything they do. Look at the dead-as-a-parrot Soviet Union, the deceased Eastern Communist Block and other dying communist countries around the world i.e Cuba, North Korea…

    ( By the way, that former CND/communist/ Labour nominated Cathy Ashton- EU’s High Representative For Foreign Affairs is being laughed at and bullied by the French in Brussels, folks. They have installed a lots of French officials inside Brussels, pushing her aside. They call her a knows-nothing-novice! )

  10. Steven it is really funny about the gigolo thing, because who on earth would fancy Geoff Hoon? He needs a makeover, maybe a shirt open to the waist showing his hairy chest with a medallion and skin tight pink jeans. Lounging on black satin sheets, eyes narrowing, hair slicked back….. Or jogging on a beach, wearing speedos. It’s not my fault, Boris started this!

  11. But Steven, you are right, it is not funny at all. Boris is making the very serious point that you don’t sell out your principles for cash. And frankly, selling out Parliament is much worse than selling yourself.

  12. @Oscar: “what about the accomodation costs, living expenses, leisure, VAT, these “lucky” EU students contribute in? That’s a good share of the GDP”

    Students typically spend as little as possible, but put pressure on local housing availability and services. That just doesn’t wash in this case.

    We’re not talking about free-spending tourists here Oscar.

  13. Britain has crucial role in teaching higher education not only to EU but to the rest of the world, for its deep experience in politics and science. Establishing more universities in agenda of Tories will enhance development of science and technology but also creates employment opportunities for the learned society. Britain needs to continue to advocate teaching excellence, and put stop on the rampant culture of mediocrity.

    Oxford is condemned, similar to Socrates, for its way of teaching excellence. Oxford is the teacher of the world.

  14. Lots of bogus private colleges and even bogus private universities have sprung up all over the country taking in non-EU students who pay to study… English and then stay put rather than going home. The Home Office is not even bothered to check any more. It’s open house nowadays.

    Talking about foreign students going to USA, Canada, Australia to study. Well they have to apply to the schools and going through vigorous checks first, then they have to apply for a student visa with strict restrictions regarding part time working hours after class etc… Anyway, these schools’ fees are very high plus the living costs. They must prove they can afford it. Certainly no subsidies. Either pay to study or they are on scholarships. I know because my niece paid to study in Sydney. While there, she asked a shop for a part time job to earn some money to support herself, the shop’s employer was very strict, demanding to see her papers and permits and stick to their Home Office’s rules. Unlike the employers in this country – if they think a foreign student works hard, they will give him a full time job, even if the Home Office’s work permit paper says foreign students are only allowed to work 20 hours per week.

    In this country, a foreign student from outside EU can pay a bogus college to come to study English. While here, they can work full time legally as nobody bothers to check. When their student visa runs out, they will ask their employer for a work reference letter, go back to their country to reapply to the British Embassy for a work visa and they get it easily. I know some real cases. Then they just come back here and live permanently. Even their job is a kitchen porter or dishwasher.

  15. After living here for 5 years, they can apply for citizenship and they will get it easily.

  16. @circus monkey: If they know Italian or Polish at the same level as those studying in UK know English and pass the required exams better than other candidates then – there is no problem with studying in Italy or Poland. As far as I know there is even no tuition fee.

  17. I have recently been thinking about this and how student tuition fees have such a detrimental effect on our whole economy. Just as any thing else the fees lead to other other things in this case debt.
    The problem is , when students take out the loans for their education they soon after will start to take out credit cards etc. This is only personal debt, but with the mounting number of people unable to pay off their debt (students greatly contributing to these) the companies who once though they were bullet proof are now starting to see that their Armour isn’t as well made as they once thought.

    so then comes liquidations and such like, which if you think about it cuts the amount of jobs available to the uni-leavers. leaving qualifications almost worthless, if the desired positions are not available they have no way of earning back what they have borrowed. leading to them getting a job that they are far too qualified for or living off of the state. All resulting in a bad time for our economy.

    Although the students that come to our uni’s from overseas don’t have to worry about this as they don’t have to live in Britain afterward! we need more English students learning as we are always at a loss for specialists and professional workers. What we do now is ship in specialists from overseas (but as long as they can do their jobs properly there isn’t anything wrong with the idea) but with this method of gaining appropriate staff we are left with higher costs. Some people don’t want to use their services as they prefer British workers in regards to doctors etc.I see nothing wrong with it personally but the wealth of the country suffers.

    And we are already spending most of it on far too many rolls of e.u red tape!

  18. You are really on to something here Boris. I am applying to read medicine in the UK, but am also looking in to applying to study medicine in the EU, due to the fierce and confusing competition for places here.
    However, all of my research is showing me that while an EU student can come here and obtain a loan from the UK student loan company, I can’t get a loan from the UK body to study in the EU, there is no corresponding body in Ireland for example, and you need to be resident for a period of time prior to taking up a place in order to obtain access to Irish maintenance grants.
    This seems to me to be the real reason that we have a huge influx, but not too many UK students going abroad – we offer the EU students funding, but other EU countries don’t make the same offer in return to us, and we fail to support our own UK students studying in the EU. Its a horrible catch 22 that means you can only do it if you are minted!

  19. Firstly. There have been a few incorrect points made here. Any Eu student traveling to another EU country to study is entitled to the same fees and access to finding as a resident of the country which they choose to study in. This was introduced as a result of a case in the European Courts.

    As regards funding for maintenance most countries view this as a form of social advantage rather than a form of social assistance which is a form of grant and therefore discretionary to a point unless it is otherwise prescribed in law. Resoluto jure concedentis resolvitur jus concessum. When the right of the grantor is extinguished the right granted is extinguished. A gratia. By grace, not by right.I do not believe the UK are currently affording anything beyond Fees with regards to education tourism.

    As you are all aware the notion of nationality has been totally diluted by becoming a member of the EU. Governments are forbidden from legislating in favor of any nationality within the european Union. Eu governments have therefore had to come up with another mechanism to avoid discriminating based on Nationality in order to ration what is a limited resource. This mechanism is known as residency. We are then faced with the situation where UK Citizens become foreigners in there own country when authorities take a simplistic approach to prescribing residency status.

    The Bologna Process This is an intergovernmental initiative which aims to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010 and to promote the European system of higher education removing the obstacles to student mobility across Europe.

    Eu Treaty rights enshrine freedom of movement in terms of work. This can often conflict with education. By moving between countries you often surrender your residency rights and many of the associated benefits associated with that. Your nationality secures you very little apart from protection via your embassy in a foreign land.

    The question which Boris poses is an clearly an economic one. But other questions follow this including are we integrating properly into Europe. William Hague noted in a recent speech that Britons presence in the lower echelons of the European parliament were severely lacking. One way to remedy this would be to liberalize the monopoly UK universities hold by providing maintenance to UK students going abroad. Currently none is available so therefore of course UK Students are not taking up places in European Universities. The host country may give equal access in terms of fees but the deal breaker has to me supporting the student via student loans and maintenance grants while abroad. I feel this would be a much better way of balancing the books. Lets export thousands of students who will integrate and become the ambassadors and diplomats of tomorrow. The clear problem is who benefits from the education of a third level student in the end. The host country? The country where they end up working? The country which subsidized there education? I think the answers are two diverse. Over the lifetime of the student all 3 could and will benefit in varying degrees. Lets encourage Students to study abroad and leave the rest to chance. Keep it Simple.

  20. “London babies being buried in pauper graves” ? In one of the richest cities in the World! I think more an indictment of the iniquities of 21st century capitalism than a serious comment on the extent of our budget contributions to the EU Boris.

  21. What is the mechanism for EU students to repay the loans they have taken out for their tution fees from the UK government? We have some French friends whose daughter has completed her degree in the UK but does not intend repaying the loan. She is in Canada at the moment working as a translator but intends returning to France next year. What incentive has France to chase up these loans through PAYE or other means?

  22. Oh, come on!!!
    Babies, pour little babies of London are buried on the streets of the city.
    EU Students – they killing our babies!!! Let’s get these EU students booted out. Britain for British!
    …just listen to yourselves. I’m utterly disgusted at the article and some of the comments.
    First of all. Yes, the system has flaws and students leaving the country are taken on a fair word of them declaring their incomes and once exceeded threshold voluntarily repaying those back to SLC. Obviously if you looking at monitoring and chasing all these loans (and to be fair, there isn’t a great deal of them. many stay and repay loans via PAYE), then yes – SLC has to step their game up. But is it students fault that the government obviously too busy with much more demanding issues such as wider economy and state welfare rather then chasing few poles in the fields up for their loans. Let’s be honest, if they are leaving… obviously something hasn’t gone right.
    Moreover, many people here sit and chat rubbish about supposedly all EU students ripping the country off and then enjoying British tax-payers money back at home in comfort. This is total rubbish. Did you know that every single EU country has it’s own repayment threshold which is based on an average graduated income specific to this country? I bet you thought it’s same as in UK.
    And then I see all this attitude coming from people who has benefited from education in the past and now think it is their responsibility to limit numbers of people trying to do the same. I mean, are you serious? Shall I reming who will be paying to pensions for God’s sake!!! Do you want them to be dumb and unskilled (which would obviously more convenient for some of you) or do you want them to be enjoying what they do and how they earn money and in that respect paying your pensions? Think about it! Think carefully.
    Let’s be real. The system for student support is not perfect, far from being so. For example, my GF who is studying now…she got her maintenance loan and the lot. I’m asking her, what are you spending all this money on? She wants to buy a car (be real, not a new one. Were talking about £500 old banger. Still – a car), she wants to buy cloth, she wants to go out. Basically live a normal life. Now my GF is not a type to go out and spend an entire loan on buzzing and cloths. She is saving up for a holiday. But then I see some other students who get exactly same money, coming from the same pocket and they spend it in about the same way. The difference is… they don’t really achieve much academically. Now, I know some people are more academically friendly the others. But I thought this type of support is in respect that yes, you working hard, you studying hard… apparently if you continue to do so, you should be doing well in your life, i.e. earn enough money to repay all these loans, which is fair enough. But I don’t see how the whole system just ignores academic results. Why is it that hard working student who can maintain his part time job with excellent academic results is given exactly same level of support as a half-drunken, not shaved idiot who has forgot to turn up at the final exams?
    Now, I know it’s not my business about how students should spend their loans. I agree. But I think this problem is much more serious problem then few thousands poles or french or germans who has forgot to repay their loans or in fact never got to the point of repaying them (income-wise).
    Why there is no financial advice with these loans? I mean I understand the whole private banking non-advice regulations now, coming from FSA. I agree with them. But this is tax payers money, I think we HAVE to advice what this money is all about and more importantly WHAT IS THIS MONEY FOR, EXACTLY!? I think our students are getting all this money well too easy and the worst thing is – nobody is telling them what to do with all this money (apart from TV commercials). Let’s be honest, most of them are never being given such amount of money just like that.
    I think this should be discussed and articles have to be written about.
    Not xenophobic, teenage-like maximized rubbish above.
    Thank you.

  23. All the UK students, who have decided to obtain a degree in another EU state, have the same rights as the indigenous inhabitants of that state. Any British student, who wishes to study in Athens for example does not have to pay tuition fees at all.

  24. The fact is that EU does nothing for EU students who want to study at universities in other EU countries. I know it from my own experience because for me it is impossible to get any financial support from EU even from my own country when I want to study at some university in UK.
    All I can rely on is just student loan from UK. I need to work for covering my student expencies.
    If you think student loan from UK is free for me, you are not correct either. I have to work while I will be studying at the UK university and therefore I will be paying taxes through my work. Any other excuses? 😉

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